Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Father James J. Brennan Sex Abuse Case Ends With A Whimper

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The district attorney's office has struck a deal with Father James J. Brennan, who was accused of the attempted rape 20 years ago of a teenage boy.

On Monday, Father Brennan, whose retrial was scheduled to begin Oct. 24th, pleaded no contest to a second-degree misdemeanor charge of simple assault, and was placed on two years probation.

"This case, which took six or seven years to resolve, ended with a whimper and not a bang because they made us an offer we couldn't refuse," said criminal defense lawyer William J. Brennan, no relation, who represented Father Brennan.

The case sure started with a bang. Back in 2011, the district attorney issued a grand jury report, still online, which stated eleven times that Father Brennan had anally raped 14-year-old Mark Bukowski back in 1996. It happened in the priest's apartment, on a night when the priest admitted he showed the boy pornography and then got into bed with him.

This excerpt is from pages 11 and 12 of the 2011 grand jury report:

Father Brennan, who was now shirtless, insisted that Mark remove his gym shorts and climb into bed with him in only his underwear, which Mark did. Mark attempted to sleep on his side, with his back to Father Brennan, because he was afraid to look at the priest. As Mark lay in that position, Father Brennan hugged him from behind, resting his chin on Mark’s shoulder and pulling the boy closer to him.

When Father Brennan pulled Mark toward him, Mark felt Father Brennan’s erect penis enter his buttocks. Mark began to cry, and asked himself over and over again, “Why is this happening?” as Father Brennan anally raped him. Mark fell asleep that night with Father Brennan’s penis still in his buttocks.

The alleged rape, however, never happened, as Bukowski would subsequently testify in court. It turned out that the district attorney's office had gilded the lily, rewriting the alleged victim's grand jury testimony to transform what William J. Brennan would describe in court as a "savage spooning" into an anal rape.

Father Brennan was tried in 2012 as a co-defendant with Msgr. William J. Lynn in the first Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse trial.

On the witness stand Mark Bukowski testified that both he and the priest had t-shirts and boxer shorts on the night they spent in the priest's bed.

The grand jury report called for indicting Father Brennan and charging him with rape and involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a minor. But when the trial began, the rape charge against Father Brennan was reduced to attempted rape, with no official explanation.

Now, that one-time rape charge been reduced to a simple second-degree misdemeanor assault, akin to a DUI, or driving under the influence. Father Brennan will not have to register as a sex offender. He may even remain a priest, William Brennan said, depending on the outcome of a canonical trial in the archdiocese.

"We tried the first case for five months" the first time, in  2012, William Brennan said. "With massive evidence against the archdiocese, through the co-defendant [Msgr. Lynn], the Commonwealth was unable to secure a conviction."

In the Lynn trial, the prosecution was allowed to introduce 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before Lynn was born, to show a pattern of behavior in the archdiocese, namely sweeping sex abuse complaints under the rug.

While Msgr. Lynn was convicted by a jury in 2012 on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, the same jury voted 11-1 for acquittal of Father Brennan on the charge of attempted rape.

William Brennan said he was eager to try the case again, because he had acquired a civil deposition where Mark Bukowski provided "great fodder for impeachment." The first time he tried the case, William Brennan described Bukowski a "serial confabulator."

Bukowski is a former Marine who went AWOL and was discharged under less than honorable conditions. He had a history of drug problems and criminal arrests. His own mother accused him of stealing from herself and her husband. Bukowski also has pleaded guilty in the past to forgery, identity theft, and two counts of filing a false statement to authorities.

William Brennan said he was confident of winning the case. But if he lost, Father Brennan would face "a lengthy jail sentence" of perhaps decades in jail.

It was a chance the lawyer decided he couldn't take. William Brennan said he was mindful of the fates of the other three priest defendants tried by the D.A.'s office in the two previous archdiocese sex abuse cases.

Msgr. Lynn served his minimum prison term of three years in jail and had his original conviction overturned, but he faces a retrial next year.

Father Charles Engelhardt died in jail.

Former priest Edward V. Avery is still in jail serving a 2 1/2 to five year sentence.

Since his first trial, which ended with a hung jury, Father Brennan has worked in the construction business.

"He's a very devout man, he's a true believer," William Brennan said of his client. Asked whether Father Brennan wants to remain a priest, the lawyer said, "He probably wants to catch his breath and see what the rest of his life holds for him."

"He's been working in manual labor," William Brennan said of his client. "But as far as I'm concerned, he is still an ordained Roman Catholic priest."

"The church may take action" against Father Brennan, William Brennan said. "I am not a canon lawyer. But based on the criminal trial where I represented him, I would presume that he has an argument to make against laicization."

"If a priest gets a first time DUI, which is the same offense level, he is not automatically laicized," William Brennan said.

An archdiocese spokesman, Ken Gavin, said that Father Brennan "has not been in active ministry for over a decade." He was placed on leave in 2006.

"While technically a priest in name, he is not in function," Gavin said. "His laicization case is pending with the Vatican."

The deal with Father Brennan follows a recent pattern with the D.A.'s office of doing whatever they can to win at all costs. All at the expense of their ostensible cause, protecting the safety of children.

Last year, the district attorney offered a deal to Father Andrew McCormick, accused of raping a 10 year-old altar boy in 1997. If convicted on five sex charges, McCormick was facing a prison term of 25 to 50 years.

The priest's first trial ended in a hung jury. At McCormick's second trial last year, the D.A. was so determined to win that they offered the priest a sweetheart deal.

After, the jury sent the judge a note saying they were at an impasse, the prosecutor told the priest that if he would plead guilty to a single charge of corrupting the morals of a minor,  he was looking at no jail time plus four years probation. And he wouldn't have even had to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law.

Father McCormick, however, said he couldn't plead guilty because he didn't do anything, and that it would be a lie. So he turned down the deal. His faith was rewarded when his second jury trial ended in another mistrial.

At the district attorney's office, if it's all about protecting the children from predators in collars, the D.A. has dropped the ball twice in the past two years. In order to get a guilty plea on a lesser charge, rather than suffer another embarrassing loss at the hands of a jury.

Which makes you wonder what all the noise was about in the first place.

Headlines, that's all our corrupt D.A. was after.

That's why he put on these sorry cases and played the public, and especially the media, for gullible fools.

Sadly, it's still working.


  1. A must read Slate article entitled " Pennsylvania's Shame by Lara Bazelton, highlights the many ills of the state judicial system and its many failures, highlighting those innocently accused by the Philadelphia District Attorneys office.

  2. A prayer from a book of devotions from Ireland published in 1869 called The Treasury of the Sacred Heart,has a prayer on the importance of asking for divine intervention on a choice of a state of life, the last line reads " This is all that I ask, and all that I desire, for what would it avail me to gain the whole world,if, in the end I were to lose my soul, and be so unfortunate as to prefer temporal advantages and worldly honours to the enjoyment of thy divine presence in a happy eternity".

    Do prosecutors start out with the best intentions and somehow become blinded by ambition? When do they stop seeing the truth, or caring about the truth ? Is it the culture of prosecutors to find fault even when none exists. How can they repeatedly sell their souls for a conviction. Wide spread corruption exists in the department of justice.

    Prosecutors are the first to point out corruption in every other field but their own. When do we get to point out the prosecutors that send innocents to jail, when do they go to jail for their crimes against humanity.
    Americans have nothing to believe in, nothing to place their trust in, with no faith in the justice department leading the charge.

    Is it too late for prosecutors to seek justice not just convictions ?

  3. DA wants to clean out problem cases. henceforth deal of the week offered. Chaput will still kick him out of the priesthood. no winner here as damaged goods gets nowhere. Lynn will still face same situation in any sweetheart deal offered by D A.

  4. So 20/20 finally did a piece on Sabrina Rubin Erdely's Rolling Stone article about UVA; any chance they can continue their investiagtion and do a story on her Gallagher piece?

    1. Jury just found AGAINST Rolling Stone and Erdely. Will now decide how much in damages to award

  5. I'm sure there will be no 5 million dollar check written in this case but a check will be written.

  6. as noted above, an innocent priest named Father Charles Engelhardt died in prison thanks to Seth Williams and his faithful conniving band of servants, including ADA's Mariana Sorensen, Mark Cippoletti, Porn King Patrick Blessington as well as Judge Ceisler and others continue to languish in prison including that innocent teacher from St. Jerome's who was also wrongfully convicted back in January 2013, all because Seth wanted the notoriety and headlines associated with that "historic prosecution" based on the pack of lies told by Danny Gallagher..or "BILLY DOE" as the local rag, the Inquirer would prefer you call him...

    this scumbag of a District Attorney belongs in prison, perhaps the feds will grant this wish after they are finished tallying all the "gifts" and monies he bled (stole) out of that bogus nonprofit the past several years...
    one can only hope

  7. Anything on the depositions?

  8. the trials against Brennan was just another example of Seth's inability to find "credible accusers" amongst the drug addicts and thieves looking fora quick score against the Archdiocese, to put it mildly, a complete and utter waste of taxpayer's dollars...

    shame those jurors in the Shero/Engelhardt trial couldn't see thru all the bullshit offered by the ADA's on behalf of Danny gallagher...

    now that verdict was a real travesty.....those jurors should be ashamed of themselves....

  9. The Lynn case will be discarded with a plea bargain offer of time served. Seth didn't have to retry Lynn and give himself more work to do, all he had to do was to simply leave Lynn alone as a free man.

  10. Hey Ralph where is the indignation from SNAP, Marci Hamilton et al for this miscarriage of justice for Mark? How come all the victims reps aren't beating their chest over Seth's latest "let's make a deal"

  11. What we need is for the prosecutors to have their crimes follow them around for the rest of their lives, just like the innocently accused have to endure for the remainder of their time on earth.
    Instead team prosecution get promotions and appointed judges for their crimes. Hiding evidence, lying to grand juries and giving misleading and injurious facts to the media,are heinous crimes, but it seems to be legal in the United States , as long as the prosecution gets the conviction ,all is right at the DOJ.

    Inventing crimes to "save" the citizens of the land had created mistrust for the very individuals that are indeed in office to protect us.

    No wonder Americans' confidence in their government is at an all time low, we have each and every dishonest deed perpetrated against victims by prosecutorial overreaching and misconduct to thank for it.

    I was told it was a game for prosecutors, they did not care whatsoever about a defendant or their families, maybe when their actions are exposed we will see if they start to care when they are a defendant.

    No wonder America is turning into a nation of haters , we are sick and tired of the way we are treated at the hands of our own government.

  12. What all the noise was about? Well, hopefully, he won't be savagely spooning any more children. There's that.

    1. Get your facts in order as nothing had happened at all due to the fatastic lies of a story laid out by Butkowski aided and egged on by Seth Williams.

    2. The DA's office failed miserably here. They had an obligation to accurately report the alleged victim's grand jury testimony and they failed miserably, opting for sensationalism and pouring gasoline on the fire.

      If the DA's office actually considered Father Brennan to be a sexual predator, then they had an obligation to either convict him at trial, or strike a deal where he would have had to register as a sex offender.

      They failed miserably on both counts, and that's all right with you Sarah? And yes, I'll be waiting for SNAP to chime in here, but oh wait, that's not what they do.

    3. My point was that even his own lawyer referred to his actions as savage spooning rather than rape, meaning that he did a terrible disgusting thing to a child. Whether or not the DA's office could get a conviction is apparently another matter.

      I can't imagine any child advocates criticizing this DA's office which has done more to out child predators in Philadelphia than any DA office in the nation. Yeah, they couldn't get every conviction they went after, but at least they did everything they could. And this guy who savagely spooned a child can no longer hide in the shadows.

      I don't speak for SNAP but I would guess that SNAP would say pretty much the same thing I'm saying. The Philadelphia DA's office stood up for American children as much as it possibly could, and the message was sent loud and clear that Philadelphians better keep their hands off the children or there's a good chance they will have to answer for it.

  13. Ralph, any word on the civil trial against Father McCormick?

  14. If the mainstream media would make these facts known, maybe jurors would think twice about being led by the nose by the prosecution seeking a conviction. How can anyone in good faith convict anyone on the word of a prosecutor. Now knowing first hand that prosecutors lie and invent crimes, disrupts the entire notion of justice.
    How could anyone with knowledge of these tactics ever again serve as a juror in a judicial atmosphere that systematically allows lies and deception on the part of the prosecution.
    Without the media to get these facts correct, we are all doomed. Prosecutors need to start being indicted for their crimes against citizens.

  15. And the number one and two prosecutors who should be indicted, arrested and tried immediately for their numerous crimes against the citizens of Philadelphia and costing them millions of dollars should be Rufus Seth Williams and Edward McCann.

  16. The recent talk of the Russians interfering with our elections started me thinking, nothing would change for the Justice Department even if the Russians overthrew our country, we operate the same way as the their Justice Department.

    Jailhouse informants or those threatened with jail time give false or misleading testimony against a defendant for a lighter sentence so the prosecution gets a conviction.

    Wire taps mysterious malfunction when evidence that could have been beneficial to defendants is recorded.

    FBI agents give false statements to Grand Juries and again at trial. IRS agents also give false statements to Grand Juries and again at trial, all for a conviction.

    Witnesses that could help clear a defendant of charges are never called, lame excuses are given as to not being able to locate such witnesses.

    Defendants and their entire families are threaten with jail and bankruptcy.

    Prosecutors, FBI and IRS agents lying to the press to sway prospective jurors giving damning testimony to seal a defendants fate.

    A media that prints exactly what the prosecution hands them without questioning if its correct and a public that feels they are powerless to change anything, feeling the Justice Department is too strong and too corrupt.

    Don't think we would really notice any change whatsoever, maybe just a few name changes,like prosecutors would be called Comrades in Charge of Finding Everyone Guilty. FBI and IRS would be Comrades in Charge of Getting the Public to Believe They are Trustworthy. Media would be Ministers of Propaganda, no change there. No change for the Judges, just continuation of siding with Comrades of Finding Everyone Guilty.

  17. Ralph it's been one week since you published this article and since Pravda published the DA's version, where is SNAP' comment, rage etc,on this deal. If Brennan showed the boy porn,slept with him in an inappropriate way, had another young man live with him at one of his assignments,surely one can surmise that Brennan maybe a bit of a groomer. SNAP is ok with this deal? What a disingenuous group.

    1. I don't get the question. You're saying that child advocates should be mad at the DA's office which went after every child predator they could possibly get? I think most people would feel that if they could have gotten this guy on a bigger charge based on rules of evidence and admissibility, they would have. I can't imagine any child advocate questioning the dedication of this DA's office in its pursuit of child predators.

  18. I'm questioning it. If the DA viewed either Father McCormick or Father Brennan as a threat to children, they should have stuck to their guns and retried both cases. And in any plea bargain deal, insist on forcing both of these guys to register as sex offenders.

    Instead, in both cases, the DA's office offered deals tantamount to plea bargaining down to jaywalking. That proves both cases were about headlines, and not protecting children. If it's about protecting children from sexual predators in collars, why would you cut any deals?

    If you can't see that, you're blind.

    1. If both cases were about headlines, they would have retried them. The plea deals sure weren't gonna get them big publicity. I believe that plea deals are cut when the prosecutor doesn't have enough admissible evidence to get a bigger conviction. And if the defendant is innocent and knows the prosecutor doesn't have a case, the defendant will insist on "Not Guilty, Jury Trial." I mean, that's normally how things work.

  19. Let me say this... this trial was an absolute joke. I have 3 children and have been friends with Father James Brennan and I would and will trust that man to be around my children. IT'S absurd that this trial even took place after all the fact finding that went on. They obviously know he was not guilty but we're looking to just make headlines to show they are "trying" to do their job. THE out come should have been another hung jury.

    1. Another trial that should never have taken place was the Traffic Court trial, the feds were "saving us" from what ? If the Supreme Court thought there was an issue with Traffic Court they should have had the balls to act themselves. Instead they got their "friends" at the federal building to bring one of the lamest cases, whereby ruining the lives of good people, and turning the public against elected officials.

      The Traffic Court case was an embarrassment of a trial,at most there were possible ethical violations ,that could have been handled by the Judicial Review Board , already in place to handle such issues.
      Traffic Court was a political payback, promised and long planned.

      When do we get to put the "Justice" department on trial for their crimes, wasting tax payers money and ruining lives.

      Maybe if the media reported on such issues, there would be public outrage and the practice would not continue.

    2. J.A., that seems a little disingenuous. You would let your children be around a man whose own lawyer conceded in court that he savagely spooned a child but did not rape the child?

  20. meh,could have easily been true.


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