Monday, December 12, 2016

At The D.A.'s Office, It's About To Hit The Fan

By Ralph Cipriano

Seth Williams should bring an umbrella to work.

Why? Because our corrupt district attorney, already under investigation by the FBI, the IRS and a grand jury, is about to see his proudest achievement get splattered by what's about to hit the fan.

What does Seth Williams consider to be his proudest achievement? Why his self-described "historic" prosecution of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first Catholic cleric in the country to be sent to jail, not for touching a child, but for failing to adequately supervise sexually abusive priests. It's an achievement that has caused church haters and so-called victims advocates to swoon over Seth. At the height of this adulation, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd proclaimed Seth, raised Catholic, to be the "avenging altar boy."

But there's long been a problem with the Lynn case, namely that the alleged victim -- former altar boy Danny Gallagher AKA "Billy Doe" -- is a transparent fraud, as revealed in his copious medical records, legal depositions, and in two interviews with a couple of psychiatrists. It's a classic fake news story for anybody who wants to look into it.

Today, Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, filed a motion in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court that seeks to take the pre-trial testimony of retired Detective Joseph Walsh. Here's why alarm bells are about to go off at the D.A.'s office as soon as they read Bergstrom's motion -- Walsh was the lead investigator in the Msgr. Lynn/Billy Doe case. And, according to Bergstrom's motion, Walsh has already talked to defense lawyers and "provided exculpatory evidence" never revealed to defense lawyers during two previous archdiocese sex abuse trials.

In his motion, Bergstrom states that he and Jeffey Ogren Esq., who represents another jailed defendant in the Billy Doe case, former school teacher Bernard Shero, "interviewed Walsh on Nov. 29, 2016."

"During that interview, Walsh provided exculpatory evidence as to both defendants, Lynn and Bernard Shero -- evidence that was not disclosed to counsel prior to Lynn's first trial and is clearly exculpatory."

Exculpatory evidence is defined as evidence favorable to a defendant, evidence that tends to exonerate, or free one from accusations. But there's a problem with the witness. The retired detective, according to Bergstrom, is scheduled for two surgeries over the next three months.

"It is clearly in the interest of justice that Walsh's testimony be taken pre-trial," Bergstrom wrote. "Walsh expressly agreed to testify should he be subpoenaed."

It was the testimony of Billy Doe that sent three priests to jail, as well as former teacher Shero, who is doing 8 to 16 years for abusing the former altar boy.

Lynn, the archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, was convicted in 2012 on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Billy Doe/Danny Gallagher. The monsignor was sentenced to a jail term of 3 to 6 years. He served 33 months in jail, plus 15 months of house arrest before his conviction was overturned by an appeals court.

In December 2015, the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's conviction and ordered a new trial. A panel of three Superior Court judges ruled that the trial court had "abused its discretion" by allowing 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse to be admitted as evidence against Msgr. Lynn.

The 21 cases dated back to 1948, three years before the 65-year-old Lynn was born, and took up at least 25 days of the 32-day trial. In their successful appeal brief, Lynn's lawyers argued that the prosecution "introduced these files to put on trial the entire Archdiocese of Philadelphia, hoping to convict [Lynn] by proxy for the sins of the entire church."

The detective who sat on the witness stand during those 25 days, and was the D.A.'s expert witness on the crimes contained in the archdiocese's so-called secret archive files --- Detective Joseph Walsh.

And Walsh is no fan of Danny Gallagher's.

In a deposition in a civil case that Danny Gallagher filed against the archdiocese, Walsh expressed doubts about Gallagher's credibility. In a deposition taken Jan. 29, 2015, Walsh testified when he questioned Gallagher about nine factual discrepancies in Gallagher's story, Gallagher usually just sat there and said nothing. Or claimed he was high on drugs. Or told a different story. 

None of Walsh's continued questioning of Gallagher was revealed to defense attorneys in two archdiocese sex abuse trials.

The reason why Walsh's testimony is an issue today is because after Lynn's conviction was overturned, D.A. Williams announced he would retry the case. Even though if he's convicted again, Lynn would face no additional jail time because he's already served his minimum sentence.

The case is scheduled to be retried May 1, 2017. Bergstrom today also filed a motion to dismiss the retrial. In that motion, Bergstrom provides a few more details about his interaction with Detective Walsh.

According to his motion to dismiss, Bergstrom interviewed Walsh on Nov 29th. "During that interview, Walsh revealed highly exculpatory and relevant information that was concealed from Lynn in his first trial," Bergstrom wrote. "Unaware of that exculpatory information, Lynn's attorneys had no opportunity to examine Walsh on those issues during the first trial."

According to the motion to dismiss, "In an October 2015 psychiatric evaluation of Gallagher, an independent doctor determined that it was not possible to conclude to a reasonable degree of certainty whether he had been sexually abused because his story was so inconsistent."

In the motion to dismiss, Bergstrom lays out allegations against D.A. Willilams present on Aug. 2nd, when Williams announced that he would retry the case against Msgr. Lynn:

Williams was -- at the time of the decision -- in clear violation of the rules established by both the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission and the Philadelphia Board of Ethics regarding his failure to disclose over $160,000 in gifts.

Williams -- again, at the time of the decision to re-prosecute Lynn -- was also aware that his ex-girlfriend was about to claim responsibility for slashing the tires on several City security vehicles parked near Williams' home -- an incident he initially directed be investigated by his own Office, not the Philadelphia Police.

Williams was aware that he was the subject of an FBI and IRS investigation.

Lynn now moves to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 587 (B).

In a third motion filed today, Bergstrom asked for pre-trial discovery on "all medical records relating to Daniel Gallagher and all correspondence related to those records in the Commonwealth's possession, custody and control."

The records, which are known to contain numerous false and contradictory allegations of sexual abuse made by Gallagher in the past, are "highly relevant" to Gallagher's credibility, Bergstrom wrote.

UPDATE: Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright has scheduled a hearing on Bergstrom's motions for 10 a.m. Friday. Stay tuned.


  1. Your work is reminiscent of the best investigative journalism. So grateful for it, in this age of "false news" and baseless opinion. Bravo

  2. Thanks, Christine, for the kind words.

  3. Now he comes out of hiding? Where was he when the first two trials were going on? Not sure if he would of changed the outcome in the witch hunt but his presence and testimony could have potentially placed a level of reasonable doubt in the corrupt jurors minds and saved three men from serving unjust prison sentences.

    1. Maybe Fr Engelhardt would still be living. Probably would have received better medical care. Didnt deserve to die in prison. His death is on Seth Williams' and Judge Sarmina's hands

    2. there was plenty of reasonable doubt even without his testimony particularly in the Shero & Engelhardt trial...., not sure if he was removed from the investigation because of his "doubts" or he retired in the midst of this investigation...

      bottom line, guess the guilt about not doing the right thing has caught up with him ....

    3. Anonymous 9:01. I think in the case of Shero and Englehardt it was Judge Ceisler not Sarmina.So her hands condemned an innocent man to die in prison. I know inept judges look alike. By the way Ralph how's Samina looking as judge on the collapse case !

  4. Maybe even an alarm clock will go off at the Inquirer, home of intrepid editor Billy Marimow and ace investigative reporter Craig Rufus McCoy.

  5. Naah, down at the Inky, everyone's tucked in for the night.

  6. Read a comment following an article on the Marshall Projects website, a reader suggested we stop calling it the Justice Department and start calling it the Legal Department. As the prosecution is not serving up justice.

    1. @anonymous 10:10 - It's more like self-serving justice - - a la carte.

  7. it's usually the burden of guilt that moves people to finally do the right thing, in this case, retired detective Walsh now willing to testify in court about his role in this corrupt set of trials. we are coming up on eight years since Danny Gallagher made his false accusations to the Archdiocese which ultimately put an innocent priest and an innocent teacher from St. Jerome's in jail.

    Lynn's not culpable in the gallagher/billy doe corrupt prosecution to the extent gallagher's entire set of stories are nothing but bullshit. However, Lynn and his boss Bevilacqua left Avery, a now defrocked priest with a drinking problem and boundary allegations in that rectory up in the Northeast and he became an easy mark for Williams and his possee of corrupt prosecutors to coerce a plea to an assault of Gallagher that never happened

    hey, maybe Seth can room with his buddy Chaka Fattah after he's brought up on charges like the now disgraced can only pray, I do each and every day...

    1. With regard to Walsh, I guess his testimony is better late than never, but I wouldn't want to be the one that offered these words of 'comfort' to the late Father Engelhardt's family, nor to the Shero's who have suffered considerable angst and financial loss.

      If inertia has been overcome and the burden of guilt is finally in motion, I wonder how long it will take for the jurors (especially the foreperson) in the Engelhardt / Shero to salve their their nagging consciences by coming forward with the unvarnished truth as to what shenanigans actually took place during their so-called deliberations.

      Even better yet, maybe Billy Doe's friend - blunt smoking Hernandez - will have his voice heard.

      As for Doe himself, and for his family.....well......stranger things have happened.

    2. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion on what went down with the Billy Doe story. There's so much blame to pass around, it's no wonder that people have lashed out at the cops. From my perspective, however, Detective Walsh is a stand-up guy.

      Anybody who read his witness reports that he filed in the Billy Doe case could see doubt dripping from every line. One of the defense lawyers in the case, Mike Wallace, used to refer to Walsh as "my detective."

      Ask the school teachers at St. Jerome's what Detective Walsh thought about Billy Doe and his stories. Walsh was on the witness stand for several weeks in the Lynn trial. In my opinion, nobody asked him the right questions.

      Walsh gave a deposition in the civil case, and there's plenty of material there. But again, they quit too soon, or were curtailed or bullied into finding out more.

      And in the criminal case, nobody sought him out until now.

    3. Ralph: I usually agree with virtually everything you say except I find it hard to believe you think Walsh is a stand up guy becasue of his willingness to testify in court almost 4 years after Fr Engelhardt and Shero were wrongly convicted. Another detective testified in that trial in Ceislers courtroom. Are you implying the defense attornies in that trial possibly "missed the boat" by not calling Joe Walsh as a defense witness.

      And as for Mike Wallace, he represented Avery who pled out on the eve of his and Lynn's trial, his plea set the stage for the DA to ultimately succeed in convicting Lynn, Engelhardt and Shero. If Walsh really was "his detective", why did Avery plead out because once he took that sweetheart 2 1/2 to 5 year deal (which hasn't really turned out the way he thought it would), those other defendants were behind the 8 ball before their trials even began....Avery pled to an assault he later recanted of gallagher but in my opinion, the damage was done....he was the glue that held Gallagher's story together ......if one person, in this case Avery says he did it, the others must be guilty

      and as someone remarked above, his involvement now is of little consolation to the Engelhardt family who lost an innocent family member way too soon and to The Shero family who also have watched an innocent family member languish in prison all these years.

      as for the civil trial, once the archdiocese paid the extortion $$$ to danny gallagher, it didn't make much sense for Slade McLaughlin to take either Shero or the deceased Engelhardt family into court, neither defendant with any assets.....and at the time, Walsh's name was nowhere in sight as a potential witness for those defendants, he has only resurfaced in your column within the past 3 weeks....

      I hope this man steps up and testifies but somehow between now and January 5th, I wouldn't be surprised if the DA succeeds in delaying his testimony, Seth and his slick band of ADA's including the very slimy ADA Pat Blessington are pretty good at throwing roadblocks in the defense attorney's way. ...

  8. Chaput paid Danny Gallagher 5M because the Pope told him to do so. And he did not receive a Cardinal's red cap !


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