Friday, April 6, 2018

A Prosecutor's 'Lost' Notes And The Trail Of Deception Behind It

Former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen [right]
By Ralph Cipriano

As Desi Arnaz used to say on the old I Love Lucy show, "Luuucyyy, you got some 'splainin to do!"

Now reprising the role of Lucy: former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen.

Court records show that defense lawyers in the "Billy Doe" sex abuse case had repeatedly sought Sorensen's long-lost notes from her initial interview eight years ago with the lying, scheming altar boy whose real name is Danny Gallagher. In three different courtrooms, in front of three different judges, three different prosecutors from the D.A.'s office, including Sorensen, have repeatedly stated that those notes didn't exist. But then, after a gap of eight years, those notes mysteriously reappeared last month, and somebody was kind enough to drop a copy on

The notes, a glaring example of prosecutorial misconduct, are relevant again. That's because the D.A.'s office, under the reform leadership of Progressive Larry Krasner, is proceeding with a planned retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, Gallagher, by allegedly placing him in harm's way of a predator priest. But today we know that Gallagher previously admitted to Detective Joe Walsh, the lead detective on the case who filed a 12-page sworn affidavit, that Gallagher made up his stories of abuse about supposedly being raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

But the legal show grinds on. Lawyers on both sides of the Msgr. Lynn case are scheduled to appear in state Superior Court on Tuesday morning, to argue appeal motions filed over the planned retrial of the monsignor. The Superior Court has twice already overturned the Lynn verdict; the monsignor's lawyers on Tuesday will be going for the trifecta. At the hearing, expect Lynn's lawyers to brandish Sorensen's long-lost notes, and tell the appeal judges about a continuing pattern of gross prosecutorial misconduct in the case originally championed by former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams, now wearing a jumpsuit in a federal prison in Oklahoma.

The trail of deception emanating from the D.A.'s office begins on July 29, 2011, when Judge Lillian Ransom was presiding over a pretrial hearing attended by five assistant district attorneys and five defense lawyers. The subject was whether the D.A.'s office had turned over to defense lawyers in the archdiocese sex abuse case all the evidence it had gathered for prosecution, as required by law.

This was before the judge severed the case involving five defendants, setting up two trials: the first, with defendants Msgr. Lynn, Father James J. Brennan, and former priest Edward Avery; the second, with defendants Father Charles Engelhardt and former schoolteacher Bernard Shero.

"This is where I need to talk to you about any statements at some earlier point that Mr. [Danny] Gallagher may have made as far as interviews at or with members of the D.A.'s office," Assistant District Attorney Sorensen told Judge Ransom. "I checked with [Deputy District Attorney] Charlie Gallagher. There's nothing discoverable."

There was only one problem with Sorensen's alibi. When she said it, Charlie Gallagher was long gone from the D.A.'s office, and had absolutely nothing to do with the case.

Two years earlier, on July 8, 2009, former District Attorney Charles Gallagher had retired from the Philadelphia D.A.'s office after 30 years, and taken a new job as the chief deputy district attorney of Lehigh County. So if Sorensen was telling the truth, why was she running anything past Charlie Gallagher?

And what would Charlie Gallagher say if he ends up on the witness stand at a retrial of the Msgr. Lynn case? Think he's going to back up Sorensen's story?

"I know that occasionally a piece of paper gets turned the wrong way," Judge Ransom replied to Sorensen. "If you come across anything, turn that over."

"Yes, Your Honor," Sorensen replied.

"I'll accept your representation as it stands now," the judge said.

"Thank you," Sorensen replied.

The deception continued on July 26, 2012, when Burton A. Rose, a lawyer for former schoolteacher Bernard Shero, filed a pretrial discovery motion in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, seeking notes taken by prosecutors when they first interviewed Danny Gallagher at the D.A.'s office on Jan. 28, 2010.

In his motion, Rose noted that he had "repeatedly requested" that he be provided with "copies of any statements or interviews" taken by detectives or prosecutors "with regard to Danny Gallagher."

On April 25, 2012, Rose wrote, Danny Gallagher testified at the trial of Msgr. Lynn. On the witness stand, Gallagher talked about his initial interview at the D.A.'s office, after Detective Drew Snyder bailed Gallagher out of jail. Gallagher testified that he "gave a statement" at the D.A.'s office to Detective Snyder, and Assistant District Attorneys Mariana Sorensen and Evangelia Manos. In his motion, Rose noted that "such a statement" had never been provided to the defense.

In his motion, Rose included a letter, dated June 29, 2012, that he sent to the D.A.'s office, requesting any statements made by Gallagher. Then, Rose wrote in his motion, he followed his letter up by telephoning Assistant District Attorney Sorensen, "who stated that she was not aware of any such statement."

On Sept. 14, 2012, the lawyers from both sides of the case were summoned to a pretrial hearing in front of Judge Ellen Ceisler, who would preside over the second archdiocese sex abuse trial, against Father Engelhardt and schoolteacher Shero.

At the hearing, Mike McGovern, the lawyer who represented Engelhardt, who subsequently died in prison, was talking about witness statements in the case.

"We never got a statement from this complainant," McGovern told the judge, referring to Gallagher. "And this historic grand jury, they never took a statement from him. They never took a statement from Dan Gallagher. I know you look shocked," McGovern told the judge. "We're shocked," McGovern said, referring to himself and Rose. "The Commonwealth said they never took a statement."

"We don't need to go off on that now," Judge Ceisler said. "So you're saying at this point that [Rose's] motion asking for Brady material [is] nonexistent?" she said, referring to the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland, which established that prosecutors have a duty to turn over any evidence that might benefit a defendant.

That's when Assistant District Attorney Pat Blessington spoke up.

"Right," he said.

On Nov. 15, 2012, lawyers were gathered in Judge Ceisler's courtroom for another pretrial hearing in the Engelhardt-Shero case. And the subject was whether the prosecution could call Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen as a witness at the Engelhardt-Shero trial.

At the hearing, McGovern stated that he thought that was a bad idea, because Sorensen was such a partisan. When he stated his opinions to Judge Ceisler, however, McGovern had no idea how partisan Sorensen was. And that she might be partisan enough to hide seven pages of notes for eight years.

"Mariana is very much invested in the case," McGovern told the judge. "She's very invested in the prosecution of this case and I think it comes through in her writing that she's very emotionally committed to the prosecution of the case, has been involved in the grand juries for abut a decade now. I don't see where it is probative and relevant and admissible for Ms. Sorensen to educate the jury in this case as to what the history was leading up to the arrest of these defendants."

"So," the judge said, "your argument is that she [Sorensen] is not going to be a properly unbiased witness, that she'll be too inflammatory and possibly prejudicial, number one, and two, that it's not relevant?"

McGovern decided to stay away from personal attacks. "Number one, that it's not relevant," he said.

In response, Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos argued that she still wanted to call Sorensen as a witness, because "she's an essential part of the case."

Eight years later, it looks like former ADA Sorensen is more essential than ever. At a retrial, expect Msgr. Lynn's lawyer to subpoena Sorensen as one of their witnesses, so she can testify from her own first-hand knowledge about continuing prosecutorial misconduct in the case.


  1. Great reporting. Shame on DA's office

  2. Going to cover Cosby Trial ?

  3. Time to put Sorensen, Blessington and any other ADA who covered up the misdeeds in jail. And add Judges Sarmina and Ceisler to the jail cell

  4. And don't forget to add Ed McCann and Rufus Seth Williams to the list to be arrested, charged and imprisoned for this crime. Rufus has answered for "some" of his crimes via federal prison, but not nearly all that he has committed...and Ed McCann, yea you Ed, your day should be coming also. No doubt you participated in this entire cover up and false prosecution along with others (and you know what is meant by that you corrupt piece of excrement) Hopefully you will all soon be where you prison and your law licenses stripped from you.

  5. Well Ralph we know where you will be Tuesday morning, keep us posted.If only those informed individuals that follow Big Trial were jurors on this case, we would be delivering the prosecution a crushing blow.

    Just think if everyone in the region knew these facts, suppose the Inky did its job and reported new updates on this case like you did, the region would be informed, innocents would not fear for their lives or liberty and justice would be served.

    I will be very interested to see what the Inky has to report this time around. Its getting embarrassing for them, how many times can they fail to report the truth.

    1. Not holding out much hope of that. Those avenging social justice warriors down at the Inky will be probably be out surveilling the Frank Rizzo statue, to guard against further outbreaks of racism.

      When it comes to social justice, nobody cares about a falsely accused Catholic priest, and a falsely accused Catholic schoolteacher. Their lives just don't matter.

    2. You forgot politicians, remember "All politicians are crooks", spoken by a prosecutor who makes his living from indicting politicians.

  6. The City of Philadelphia should be held liable for endangering the welfare of innocents as the DA's office placed predator prosecutors in charge of citizens of the the city.

  7. It's called prosecutorial discretion.

  8. The Inquirer said the truth matters now more than ever, I would aree, since there are other sources to get our news, why bother with someone who gives inaccurate accounting of the news.

    Its time for them to admit that they too were duped into believing the prosecutions lies. I could forgive them if they tell the public about what has now come to light but I will never forgive them if the truth remains hidden.
    How can anyone make an informed decision without all the facts. We can handle the truth.

  9. Lying identification is typically genuinely simple on the off chance that you comprehend what to search for.


Thoughtful commentary welcome. Trolling, harassing, and defaming not welcome. Consistent with 47 U.S.C. 230, we have the right to delete without warning any comments we believe are obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.