Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Bad Rufus & Billy Doe Come Back to Haunt Graham Spanier

By Ralph Cipriano

The state Superior Court, in a split, 2-1 decision, yesterday denied an appeal by Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University, who was seeking to overturn his conviction last year on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child.

In denying Spanier's appeal, the state Superior Court repeatedly cited the Commonwealth v. Lynn a total of 34 times in 29 pages, as in the case against Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In the Pennsylvania courts, the Commonwealth v. Lynn now stands as legal precedent. In real life, however,  the case is a scandalous embarrassment to law enforcement, as it involves a fake victim, "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, dubbed the "lying, scheming altar boy" in a cover story by Newsweek. And the unscrupulous prosecutor who put Gallagher on the stand is another embarrassment to law enforcement -- a corrupt former district attorney named Rufus Seth Williams who's now wearing a jump suit and sitting in a federal prison.

Gallagher's been exposed in court as a lying fraud according to a 12-page affidavit filed by Joe Walsh, the D.A.'s own lead detective who investigated the case.

According to the detective's affidavit, he repeatedly warned the lead prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, that his investigation revealed that Gallagher's multiple claims of abuse weren't credible when he falsely claimed to have been raped by two priests and a schoolteacher.

Indeed, the detective said that in private, Gallagher even confessed to the detective that he made up many of his wildest claims of abuse. But according to the detective, Assistant District Attorney Sorensen repeatedly ignored him, saying, "You're killing my case."

It also should matter that the grandstanding D.A. who brought the fraudulent case against Msgr. Lynn, Rufus Seth Williams, has since been exposed in federal court as a corrupt politician who took bribes, did favors for criminals, committed extortion, and sold his office in exchange for goods such as a chocolate-colored $3,000 custom couch from Raymour & Flanigan, free vacations in Punta Cana, and a beat-up 1997 XK8 Jaguar convertible that was usually in the shop.

Philadelphia's former top law enforcement official, who used to spend his time smoking cigars at the Union League, now wears a jump suit and sits in protective custody in a federal prison in Oklahoma, doing four years for a litany of 29 crimes that he pleaded guilty to, including stealing from his own mother.

In the real world, those facts might matter. But in the make believe world of Pennsylvania's court system, propped up by a corrupt media, the case of the Commonwealth v. Lynn lives on as a milestone in the crusade against sex abuse. Yesterday, it served as the bedrock of the state Superior Court's opinion that denied Spanier's appeal.

In their decision, the state Superior Court ruled that Spanier, like Lynn, owed a "duty of care," as he was supervising the welfare of a child, and that Spanier failed in his duty to protect children from convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky.

That's what the court said yesterday. But the truth is that just like in the case of Lynn, the state's original child endangerment law never really applied to supervisors such as Spanier.

Who said so? Why, this same state Superior Court which previously overturned Lynn's conviction in 2013. In that decision, the state Superior Court ruled that the state's original child endangerment law did not apply to supervisors such as Lynn, but then the grandstanding state Supreme Court came along, overturned the Superior Court's reversal of the Lynn conviction in 2015, and made some bad case law that came back to haunt Spanier.

"The facts before us establish that [Spanier], a university president, supervised his school's response to repeated allegations of on-campus abuse of a minor by a high-status former employee with access to campus facilities," the Superior Court opinion said yesterday about Jerry Sandusky. "He [Spanier] was clearly supervising a child's welfare pursuant to Lynn."

The facts, however, tell another story. The state's original 1972 child endangerment law said: "A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he knowingly endangers the welfare of a child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

For nearly 40 years in Pennsylvania, that law applied only to adults who were in direct contact with a child, such as a parent, guardian or teacher who "knowingly endangers the welfare of a child."

In 2005, then Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham and a grand jury concluded that the original child endangerment law did not apply to Msgr. Lynn, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, or any other high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who had a supervisory role. The grand jury was investigating four decades of sex abuse and church cover ups in the archdiocese. It issued a report that said although it wanted to, it could not legally indict Lynn or Bevilacqua for the crime of endangering the welfare of a child because the law didn't apply to supervisors.

D.A. Abraham then led a state-wide crusade to change the law, and the state legislature complied, amending the law in 2007 to include supervisors. But Rufus Seth Williams came along in 2011 and decided, without any explanation, that in order to grab some headlines, the original child endangerment law did apply to supervisors.

After the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's conviction, the state Supreme Court intervened on Rufus's behalf, upholding his twisted interpretation of the law. How did the Supremes do it? By going back in time to 1972 and clairvoyantly reinterpreting the original intentions of the state legislature  when they passed the original child endangerment law. To say they originally intended to include supervisors, or anybody who was in a role supervising the welfare of children.

If so, then why did the state legislature have to amend the law in 2007 to specifically include supervisors? If so, why didn't Lynne Abraham and the grand jury indict Cardinal Bevilacqua for endangering the welfare of a child, in addition to Msgr. Lynn?

But the bad case law lives on. In the Lynn case, the state Superior Court yesterday wrote, "the defendant was a 'high-ranking official in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia" who was 'specifically responsible for protecting children from sexually abusive priests.' Our Supreme Court concluded that sufficient evidence supported Lynn's conviction even though he did not directly supervise any children."

"Here, as in Lynn, [Spanier] occupied a position of high authority with respect to the site of the alleged abuse," the Superior Court said yesterday. "Here, as in Lynn, [Spanier] oversaw his institution's response . . . [Spanier], like the defendant in Lynn, had sufficient information and authority to take action. Indeed, he was uniquely positioned to do so."

The 2-1 opinion upholding Spanier's conviction was written by Judge Victor P. Stabile, and joined by Judge Carolyn H. Nichols. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Lillian Harris Ransom said that the Commonwealth violated Spanier's rights by failing to inform him of its intent to rely on an exception to the statute of limitations at a reasonable time before trial.

There's a two-year statute of limitations on the crime of endangering the welfare of a child. The crime that Spanier was accused of ignoring, the alleged 2001 rape in the showers of a 10-year boy by Jerry Sandusky, as allegedly witnessed by Mike McQueary, was long past the statue when the Commonwealth in 2012 charged Spanier.

To get around the statute of limitations, the Commonwealth claimed that Spanier and other Penn State administrators were involved in a continuing course of conduct, namely a conspiracy to cover up the shower incident, and that's why they could charge Spanier with endangering the welfare of a child.

But a jury in the Spanier case found no conspiracy and no continuing course of conduct. In her dissenting opinion, Judge Ransom found that Spaneir should have reported the 2001 shower incident to the Department of Welfare and the police, which he didn't do. "Accordingly, he [Spanier] violated a duty of care owed to the child victim in the 2001 incident," Judge Ransom wrote. But she also found the state at fault regarding the statute of limitations.

Here, in the Penn State case, we come to another phantom victim of sexual abuse.

On March 1, 2002, according to the 2011 grand jury presentment, an assistant football coach at Penn State University [McQueary] walked into the locker room in the Lasch Building at State College and heard “rhythmic, slapping sounds.” Glancing into a mirror, he “looked into the shower . . . [and] saw a naked boy, Victim No. 2, whose age he estimated to be 10 years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Jerry Sandusky.”

"The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen. The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to promptly report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno . . . The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home, where he reported what he had seen."

But the alleged victim never came forward, and, according to the prosecutors, was known "only to God." McQueary wrote that he never saw any such anal rape. And all the people that the grand jury presentment claimed McQueary had told his story to, about the anal rape, subsequently came forward to deny that in court.

Even McQueary disagreed with the grand jury report, writing in an email to the lead prosecutor and investigator that they had "slightly twisted" his words. "I cannot say 1000 percent sure that it was sodomy. I did not see insertion," McQueary wrote. "It was a sexual act and or way over the line in my opinion whatever it was."

But in Pennsylvania, a phantom victim of sex abuse and a phony claim of anal rape is all an unscrupulous prosecutor needs to grab headlines and win convictions. 

We're talking about Frank Fina, the former lead prosecutor on the Sandusky case, who has been brought up on misconduct charges before the disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court. Fina's case continues next month.

In the case of unscrupulous prosecutors such as Fina, Rufus Seth Williams and Mariana Sorensen, it also helps if the media plays along, and never looks below the surface.

In her dissenting opinion, Judge Ransom writes that the Commonwealth "employs a rather tortured argument" to suggest that Spanier's failure to report Sandusky was a "continuing course of conduct," and that his failure to act "created an ongoing danger to any child brought on the campus or encountered by Sandusky."

"The Commonwealth has introduced no additional evidence to show that [Spanier] was aware of any incidents involving Sandusky after 2001, nor his active involvement in any further actions involving Sandusky," Judge Ransom wrote. "Accordingly, the course of conduct exception is incapable as a mater of law, where [Spanier] endangered the welfare of a child by failing to report suspected child abuse, and where the charges are not brought within the statue of limitations."

"The Commonwealth supplies no additional authority to support the contention that we should expand the [endangering the welfare of a child] statute of limitations in such a manner, and I can find none," Judge Ransom wrote. "Accordingly, based on the above, I cannot agree" that the statue of limitations should have extended in Spanier's case, and "I would reverse [Spanier's] conviction and vacate his judgment of sentence."

Spanier was given a sentence of 4 to 12 months, with at least two months to be served in jail. His sentence has been suspended pending his appeal. Spanier's lawyers are expected to appeal the state Superior Court's decision to the state Supreme court.

For more on the topic of the Superior Court's "tortured reasoning:

Ray Blehar:


  1. ""The facts before us establish that [Spanier], a university president, supervised his school's response to repeated allegations of on-campus abuse of a minor by a high-status former employee with access to campus facilities," "

    Repeated allegations? What exactly were the other allegations?

  2. A previous 1998 shower incident involving another boy that was investigated by the DA, a county child welfare agency, and the cops, but no sex abuse was found at that time.

  3. At least 1 of the 3 judges decided the case properly.

    Even more twisted is that Spanier was not convicted for endangering the unidentified 2001 boy because whatever McQueary saw happened before Spanier was notified. Plus, there is no evidence that unidentified 2001 boy was ever abused by Sandusky after Spanier was notified.

    Spanier was bizarrely convicted of endangering the anonymous boy who testified at his trial, a victim who the Sandusky jury did not fully believe and who has told a changing story. He originally claimed his single incident of abuse, that was only fondling, was before the 2001 incident witnessed by McQueary. But PSU paid more for incidents after 2001 so he had a financial motive to move the date after 2001, which he did repeatedly.

    The Superior Court affirmed the trial judge's twisted interpretation that the statute of limitations for misdemeanor child endangerment is the victim's 50th birthday. That means that Second Mile CEO, Jack Raykovitz, could still be charged. I think he was far, far worse than Spanier because he was a mandated reporter of child abuse, a PhD child psychologist, paid to supervise the safety of Second Mile boys, paid to supervise Sandusky and knew Sandusky was showering alone with Second Mile boys in 2001, if not before.

    Spanier barred Sandusky from bringing boys on campus and reported him to Second Mile in 2001. Raykovitz knew Sandusky was in the shower with a Second Mile boy in 2001 but did nothing more than condone Sandusky showering alone with Second Mile boys. He just warned Sandusky to wear a swimsuit while showering with a boy. That would have been no deterrent because Sandusky could still have the boy naked, his main objective.

    If Raykovitz isn't charged it just shows the selective prosecution and hypocrisy of Attorney General Shapiro, who just said about the Spanier appeal, "We will continue to pursue anyone who looks the other way in the face of child sexual abuse." Yea, right.

  4. Pennsylvania government corruption ruined the lives of these four men. Corruption runs rampant throughout Pennsylvania and fake news began with the Sandusky scandal.

  5. Interesting that you're not covering the McIlmail settlement in Philadelphia or the current Grand Jury Report being delayed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. You've complained that the Philadelphia Inquirer fails to cover the Catholic Church abuse stories that you're interested in, but you also fail to cover the stories that they're interested in. The McIlmail settlement regarding Fr. Brennan is a pretty big story in Philadelphia, is it not? The delayed Grand Jury Report is being covered by just about every newspaper in Pennsylvania, but not Big Trial. Even if you just wanted to reprint your "20 mistakes in the Grand Jury Reports" coverage, it would seem quite relevant to what seems to have gone wrong with the current delayed Grand Jury Report. I'm kind of curious as to how the petitioners to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court knew that they were even in the Grand Jury Report that is currently delayed. I thought only the 6 Dioceses had the opportunity to preview it.

    1. SarahTX2 - Allentown Morning Call has your answer:

      "Under the grand jury law, individuals who are not charged with a crime but about whom the report is critical may be allowed to see it and issue a reply to be incorporated in the final product."

  6. Sarah, always glad to hear from you. Big Trial at this point is a guerrilla operation short on funding and staffers; as a result, we pick our spots. The settlement you're talking about was spoon fed to the Inquirer by the usual victims lobby; and it got the usual coverage.

    The Inky wrote about two critical grand jury reports about the church, never mentioning that one of them, the one Seth put out, was completely bogus. I agree with you that the upcoming grand jury report is a big story.

    You're also personalizing me vs. the Inky, and kind of missing the point that any newspaper that covers the horrors the Catholic church inflicted on innocents in this town is also obligated to cover the Billy Doe story, when one of those "victims" turns out to be a fraud.

    It goes beyond what I'm "interested" in; it's about fair play, covering the news, and not being biased. I've both ripped the church, and defended those priests and the Catholic school teacher who were falsely accused. Actually, there's nothing special about that. It's how its supposed to be done.

    But the Inky only sees the abuse story one way; predator priests and innocent victims. And when the facts don't fit their version of reality, they ignore them. That's called slanting the news.

  7. The good people over at Catholics4Change are reporting The Archdiocese of Philadelphia settled a claim of sexual abuse by father brennan. Quoting "Archdiocese settles abuse lawsuit with largest reported payout".

    Assuming Mr.Gallagher's settlement for being raped by two priests and a school teacher was a unconfirmed 5 million dollars this must be more.

    ...And that is how you punish a organization who hid rapists, moved around rapists and tried to sweep everything under the rug. You hit them in the pocketbook.

    1. You also prop up a phony victim so you can "get" Msgr. Lynn. The kind of guy who would do that is Rufus Seth Williams, who was also a corrupt criminal who took bribes, committed extortion, sold his office, and stole from his own mother, but let's gloss over that, because that's all right with you. Let's pretend that when Rufus was going after the church, he did everything by the book, and was a knight in shining armor.

      A guy who stole from his own mother.

      To get the church, and Lynn, you also have to present Danny Gallagher as a real victim of sex abuse. When the detective and two forensic psychiatrists who evaluated him, plus all the lawyers who questioned him in depositions where he had to claim he didn't remember 130 times, know he's a freaking liar. And hand him $5 million, money that rightly should have gone to real victims of sex abuse, of which we have hundreds, if not thousands, running around the archdiocese.

      So in your twisted logic, two wrongs make a right. If our law enforcement officials use fraudulent victims, rewrite the law, and stage fraudulent prosecutions, so that phony victims can get paid, that's OK, because two wrongs make a right.

      Twisted logic, my friend, twisted logic that invites mob rule. Why bother to stage a phony trial with corrupt prosecutors and a phony victim? Why not just blow up a church or murder men in black?

    2. "The good people over at Catholics4Change" are of the same ilk as the Inquirer. Refuse to print anything about the bogus prosecution of Fr Englehardt and Mr Shero. No one cares about the truth as long as someone wearing a white collar pays the price for the sins of others

  8. I appreciate your great response, Ralph. I do love your reporting and obviously look forward to it when you're able to put time and resources into it. My only quarrel ever was that even if Billy Doe was a fraud, it doesn't negate the fact that Msgr. Lynn made a list of I think it was 35 priests who were sexually abusing children and never did anything about those priests beyond turning in the list to the Cardinal. And Billy Doe being a fraud doesn't undo that, so I'm glad he's serving out his sentence. I also know there's the question of interpreting what the law was at the time because the law was later changed to further clarify it. But I was really glad to read in your reporting that the Lynn case was cited 34 times in this Spanier case as a precedent. I understand that you don't think it should be a precedent.

    As for the settlement, I'm trying to remember what happened with Fr. Brennan. I know they dropped the case right after the victim died. But I think there was also confusion because there were two Fr. Brennans or something like that? I know you're super busy so if I get time, I'll try to look that up myself.

    As for the current delayed Grand Jury Report, there may well be a quick and easy answer, but I haven't found it yet, as to how the petitioners to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court became aware that they were mentioned in the Grand Jury Report. I can't help but think there was some mishandling or leaking of this report either by the Grand Jurors or the Dioceses which seems like a big problem for the Pennsylvania Grand Jury system.

    As for the Spanier case, total props to you for being able to keep all these details straight. And, overall, props to Pennsylvania for looking into all of these things and trying to sort these messes out because it certainly looks like people in Pennsylvania give a dam about American children, and that is something I wish the rest of the country could know more about.

    1. Truth matters. Yes, Lynn wrote that list, and yes, he turned it over to Bevilacqua, who promptly ordered it shredded.

      But the underlying crime in the Lynn case, and the only victim, was Billy Doe/Danny Gallagher. And he is a complete fraud. Sorry, but that matters. The Lynn case is only a precedent in the annals of corrupt prosecutors and corrupt prosecutions.

      If we allow prosecutors to brazenly break the law, and present phony victims, for the goal of justice, it is a total perversion an dfailure of the system. The ends do not justify the means.

      And reinterpreting a law that was specifically changed because it didn't include supervisors is a completely transparent exercise, as in the ends justify the means. It is blatant hypocrisy, a rewriting of the past, and a perversion of the facts.

      Facts matter. Truth matters. Prosecutors should uphold the law. It's as simple as that. And it's the duty of reporters, as well as judges, to hold them accountable.

      In the Billy Doe case, and in the Penn State case, that didn't happen. Instead, prosecutors, playing to the crowd, and enjoying a pass from gullible journalists and judges with their wet fingers in the proverbial air, imposed mob rule.

      It would have been more honest for those prosecutors to incite a mob to break into jail, and lynch the defendants. Because that's what happened in both cases. Whether the defendants were actually guilty or not.

      And if you're OK with that, I'm not. Because you or I could be next the next time a popular cause incites a crowd. As in sex abuse victims crying for justice. Or whatever the next cause is.

    2. It's either mob rule or a legal system of justice. In the case of Msgr. Lynn, and Jerry Sandusky, it was mob rule.

      Whether the defendants were actually guilty or not.

    3. Imagine the millions in government funds wasted to prosecute and defend Curley, Schultz and Spanier. I bet it was the 3 most expensive misdemeanor convictions in history. Does Guinness have a world record for costliest misdemeanor conviction?

      Focusing all that money and attention on misdemeanors is the wrong focus. It should be on at-risk children. Just today it was reported that a 10 year old boy was murdered in Calif. by his mother's MS-13 gang member boyfriend. Caseworkers had 12 complaints about the boy's relatives in 3 years but still sent the boy back to his mother. Just another of many examples showing that reporting child abuse often fails because police and caseworkers do the wrong thing as in 1998 for the Sandusky case.

    4. Fr Englehardt died handcuffed to a hospital bed. He deserved better. And dont forget the pains inflicted on Mr Shero
      All because of Rufus, Sorenson, Blessington, Sarmina, Ceissler, and more. Dont forget the innocent victims of our "just" legal system

    5. Sarah: I wonder how retired ADA Sorenson will explain in court, if it gets that far, how a series of notes of the "first interview" of Danny Gallagher/AKA Billy Doe went mysteriously missing from January of 2010 until being discovered just a few months ago, notes that were obviously "DELIBERATELY" withheld from the defense attornies for Fr. Engelhardt, Bernard Shero and Fr Lynn back in 2010 as they prepared for trial..and don't forget retired detective Joe Walsh who Sorenson said was "killing my case".....wonder if she was already on the payroll of SNAP at that point in time.....
      ....on more than one occasion, on the record, Sorenson advised the court during several hearings "there were no notes taken of that interview"...........and now they "miraculously appeared" out of thin air in spring convenient

      say what you want, but it appears there's several cracks in the vindictive prosecution of those 3 innocent men that hopefully will come into court if Lynn's retrial occurs......I'm hoping Lynn gets his day in court so all this newly discovered/deliberately withheld evidence can be used by Lynn's attornies....

  9. Plus DA Seth and State Attorney General see nothing wrong with prosecuting abuse cases that have expired SOL as long as they find a willing judge to participate in this nefarious scheme.

  10. When a large segment of our population who have been cruelly mistreated by the justice department can see a direct correlation between the media and their convictions, due to contamination of jurors, with tales of alleged crimes and invented abuse, our basic need for truth and justice is taken away from us, regardless of the writers intent not getting the facts correct is horrendous .

    Mainstream media is so hell bent on clearing out corruption and rooting out abuses,they neglect to find out if there is any truth to the allegations, just run with the story. It doesn't matter if no crime occurred or that families and communities are torn apart, the public will love it plus there is always the possibility of an award for their work to sweeten the pot.
    Reporters who don't care enough to get it right instill fear and hatred of their profession and of the justice department. Besides their sources are representatives of the justice department, who would ever doubt those individuals who are hired to work for our government who are sworn to uphold justice, would lie. Reporters feel safe and embolden sharing the fallacies of corruption and abuse with their readers.

    Savvy reporters know the difference, lazy journalist just do not care enough to get it right.

  11. "Tempus Omnia Revelat" Latin for "Time Reveals All Things", except anything the Justice Department or the Inky have to say,that is set in stone , much like the Ten Commandments.

  12. Maybe the Superior Court owes us a "duty of care" to get the facts straight and not depend on prosecutors who intentional break the law by creating sensationalized cases for themselves.

    Just another example of bending the law to save face with the public.

  13. Graham Spanier's problem is that he never found an attorney who passed the bar and would actually defend his client. Never was the fraudulent presentation brought up and the fact that there was no abuse to report. It staggers my mind that in a case of this magnitude that Superior Court jurists did not look into the facts of the case, but just went with the false narrative. What an indictment of the ineptitude and corruption of PA judges!

    1. Spanier's lawyers believed that had it won so didn't put on a defense. If not for the prosecution tolling the statute of limitations without telling them, they would have. I'm not sure you can fault them for that strategy. Putting on a defense can give the prosecution opportunities they would not otherwise have had.

      Even Perry Mason cannot win when the judges are in the prosecutor's pockets.

      The dissenting judge ruled that she would have vacated Spanier's conviction because prosecutors violated Spanier's "due process rights when it failed to inform him of its intent to rely upon an exception to the statute of limitations at a reasonable time before trial."

      Maybe the full Superior Court will side with her on appeal given the many misstatements of fact the majority opinion relied on.


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