Wednesday, January 22, 2020

D.A. Refuses To Disclose If 'Billy Doe' Will Show For Church Retrial

The star of the circus
By Ralph Cipriano

Can you stage a rerun without the original star of the show?

That's what the D.A.'s office under Progressive Larry Krasner was plainly trying to do this morning during a 90-minute hearing in Courtroom 807 of the Criminal Justice Center. The only question is whether Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn Bright will let them get away with it.

The case at question is Commonwealth v. Lynn, as in Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He achieved notoriety in 2012 for becoming the only Catholic priest in the country to go to jail during the clergy sex abuse scandal, not for touching a child, but for failing to prevent a known abusive priest from endangering another child.

In the sequel, however, the D.A.'s office under Krasner is plainly angling to retry the case without its star witness, and it's not hard to figure out why. Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," is the credibility-challenged former altar boy who improbably claimed he was repeatedly raped by two priests and a schoolteacher.

The only problem with Gallagher's story -- he made it all up. And since the former heroin dealer, junkie and thief has already stolen $5 million from the Catholic Church in a civil settlement, he has no incentive to leave his current home in sunny Florida to voluntarily return to Philadelphia in the middle of chilly March and risk a perjury rap.

If Gallagher does indeed show up in Courtroom 807, he'll be cross-examined about his many conflicting and transparently ridiculous stories, and outright lies.

It doesn't make any sense for Gallagher to try and pull his conman act off again when everybody is on to him.

There were so many outrages going on in Judge Bright's courtroom today that it's going to be a challenge to recap all of them.

Let's start with the judge. This case of Commonwealth v. Lynn is in its tenth year. It was a complete travesty from start to finish; but all the facts are known. And yet Judge Bright has imposed a gag order on all the lawyers involved in the case. She's also maintained an order of confidentiality on the litigators, meaning every pre-trial motion they write has to be filed under seal, where the press and public can't see it.

This is plainly an abuse of the system. Gallagher has already collected his millions. At two previous trials starring Danny Gallagher as victim, a total of three priests and one schoolteacher have already been sent to jail because of Gallagher's lies and have served their prison terms. Including Father Charles Engelhardt, falsely accused, who died in prison still professing his innocence.

So the only parties the judge is protecting by sealing all pre-trial motions are the guilty officials in the district attorney's office, which has a documented history of prosecutorial misconduct in this case from start to finish. These are the same corrupt officials that the judge is still protecting under a cloak of secrecy who are currently trying to pull a fast one, by retrying the case against Lynn in the 11th hour under a whole new set of rules, without having to put an alleged victim of abuse on the witness stand.

We're talking about a defendant, the monsignor, who has already served 33 months of his 36 month prison sentence, in addition to 18 months of house arrest. So the retrial amounts to a show trial.

And the only reason the judge and the D.A. are getting away with it is because the media, which once devoted saturation coverage to the Lynn case, has completely abandoned its responsibility to report the news.

Leading the way is The Philadelphia Inquirer, which ran some 60 stories about Billy Doe, without once ever telling the public that according to overwhelming evidence, the D.A.'s star witness was a fraud.

And to make things worse, the people in the D.A. would have to have been deaf, dumb and blind not to know that they were putting a complete fraud on the witness stand to send men to jail for crimes that never happened.

Does the criminal justice system get any more twisted than that?

The only two reporters attended this morning's hearing were myself and Maryclaire Dale, a reporter for the Associated Press who covered the original trial of Msgr. Lynn, as well as a subsequent trial of Father Engelhardt and schoolteacher Bernard Shero. Both cases featured Danny Gallagher as the D.A.'s star witness.

Here's a condensed history of this poisoned prosecution. Msgr. Lynn was indicted in the absence of a legitimate police investigation by a false and mistake-filled grand jury report that ran with Danny Gallagher's completely uncorroborated tall tales. It's a travesty that's still posted online.

At a trial packed with reporters, Lynn was tried and convicted in 2012 on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Gallagher. That conviction has been overturned twice on appeal by the state Superior Court, because of the royal screw-ups of the original trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, who was plainly biased on every day of a seven-week trial, and clearly out to hang the defendants.

Got all that?

Meanwhile, the thoroughly corrupt Philly D.A. who sponsored this case, Rufus Seth Williams, was sent to jail for five years after he admitted in court that all of the charges against him in a 29-count federal indictment, including taking bribes and stealing from his own mother, were true.

And the D.A.'s former lead detective in the case, Joe Walsh, has come forward to testify in a 12-page affidavit about prosecutorial misconduct. Such as the prosecutors never telling the defense about a pretrial prep session Walsh had with Gallagher, where the detective caught the former altar boy in one lie after another.

Until Gallagher finally admitted to the detective that he had made up his original fantastic allegations of being brutally anally raped, threatened with death, getting tied up naked with altar sashes, strangled with a seatbelt and being knocked unconscious by his alleged assailants.

In his affidavit, Walsh said he asked Gallagher, "Did he just make all that up?"  According to the detective, Gallagher replied, "He just made up stuff and told them anything."

Yep, all of those fantastic charges -- repeated mindlessly by the media -- were complete fabrications.

They came from the mouth of a star witness who, during his civil case against the archdiocese, when questioned about all the factual discrepancies in his many contradictory allegations of abuse over the years, took the coward's way out by saying he couldn't remember more than 130 times. 

So you can understand why our "reform" D.A. wouldn't want Gallagher around when the case is retried. Especially when the D.A.'s office may have to deal with Detective Walsh testifying as a witness for the monsignor.

A new headline-hunting D.A. seeks another show trial
According to Walsh, when he told Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen Gallagher's fanciful stories of abuse weren't adding up, and were being contradicted by every other witness in the case --  witnesses that included priests, nuns, Gallagher's former teachers, counselors, brother and parents -- Sorensen replied, "You're killing my case."

During a retrial, nobody at the prosecution table wants to see Walsh on the witness stand retelling that story.

This morning, Thomas Bergstrom, the defense lawyer for the monsignor, stood up in court and implored the judge to force the D.A. to divulge whether they plan to retry the Lynn case, scheduled to begin March 16th, with or without Danny Gallagher the liar on the witness stand as the alleged victim.

Bergstrom pointed out to the judge that the statute of limitations for the crime of endangering the welfare of a child is two years. So in the original indictment of Msgr. Lynn, the only way the prosecution could charge the monsignor in 2011 with a crime that allegedly happened in 1998 was to piggy-back on a state amendment that allowed victims of child abuse who were minors to be able to sue their abusers up until they turned 50 years of age.

How else do we go from 1998 to 2011, Bergstrom asked the judge. "That's how they [the D.A.'s office] got there the first time around. That's how they must try the case now."

To allow "the prosecution to go forward" without an alleged victim of abuse "is absurd," Bergstrom told the judge. "There has to be a victim who suffered the abuse. Otherwise, the case is over."

 In response, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington did some clumsy tap-dancing, arguing that the D.A. was not required by law to divulge who they intended to call as witnesses. He continued to maintain, in contrast to the original trial of Msgr. Lynn, that the D.A. only had to prove that by merely placing an abusive priest in a position where he would have access to children, that Msgr. Lynn was guilty of endangering the welfare of a child.

"The bomb doesn't have to go off," Blessington said, for Msgr. Lynn to be found guilty of the crime of endangering the welfare of a child.

As proof, the prosecutor pointed out that in the trial judge's original charge -- a trial judge who was so biased and so abused her discretion that the conviction of Lynn was twice overturned by the state Superior Court -- that Lynn was plainly charged with endangering the welfare of Gallagher, as well as other unnamed children at the Catholic elementary school where Gallagher was allegedly abused.

Bergstrom, however, said that how can you put a defendant on trial for endangering the welfare of children he never knew? He continued to insist that you have to have a living, breathing victim of abuse on the witness stand to convict a man of the crime of endangering the welfare of a child.

A retrial of Lynn without a victim would be a vivid contrast with the original trial, where Lynn's codefendants include Father Edward Avery, who suddenly pleaded guilty to abusing Danny Gallagher. Avery subsequently recanted, saying he pleaded guilty to something he didn't do, abusing Danny Gallagher, because, at 69 years of age, he was looking at a prison term of 13 1/2 to 27 years in prison. And the D.A. had offered Avery a sweetheart deal to plead guilty to something he didn't do, and serve a prison sentence of 2 1/2 to 5 years.

Another travesty of justice. At the original trial of Lynn, the prosecution basically put a gun to Avery's head and forced him to plead guilty to a crime that his lawyer had plainly warned the prosecutors that he didn't do. And if they asked him about it at his sentencing, Avery's lawyer told the prosecutors, he'll tell you he didn't do it.

At Avery's original sentencing, which happened at the start of the Lynn case, and had to prejudice the jury, both the judge and the prosecutors got around that problem by never asking Avery if he had actually committed the crimes he was pleading guilty to.

Another travesty -- imagine if Avery actually did it? A priest pleading guilty to repeatedly and brutally raping a child, and getting only2 1/2 to 5 years in jail for it?

Is that justice?

And so this morning in court, Blessington continued to tap dance around the question of whether a retrial would be staged without a victim.

"The law doesn't require us to tell the defense we're going to call as a witness," Blessington told the judge. Blessington would only concede that Danny Gallagher will be on a witness list, but he claimed that the D.A.'s office hasn't made the decision yet at a retrial on whether to call Gallagher as a witness.

Yeah, right.

Blessington, and another prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Anthony Pomerantz, also continued to argue to the judge that they could retry Lynn without a victim, because they had originally charged him with not only endangering the welfare of Gallagher, but also the welfare of other unnamed children at the school.

At the height of the hypocrisy, Blessington referred to another complete travesty of justice, the rigged and rushed trial of Jerry Sandusky, to say that yes indeed a defendant in a child abuse case can indeed be charged with abusing nameless victims. Because at his trial, Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 victims, including two nameless boys in the shower whose identity, according to the prosecutors, was known only to God.

Two fraudulent prosecutions brought by corrupt prosecutors, being used to justify the other.


The fall guy
In response, Judge Bright asked Bergstrom if there was any statute or case he could point to that would require the D.A. to divulge who he was going to call as a witness.

"Professional courtesy," Bergstrom suggested. But the judge wasn't buying it. She kept asking for something "to hang my hat on," such as a statute or previous case.

So the combatants today left the courtroom without knowing whether the D.A. was going to be allowed to retry Lynn for endangering the welfare of a child, without having to put that former child on the witness stand.

The judge said she needed more time to issue a ruling.

Here's a safe bet: if the judge lets the D.A. get away with not disclosing what they're up, here's what will happen.

When they're picking a jury in March, the D.A. will tell the judge that it's such a shame, but due to unforeseen circumstances, Danny Gallagher won't be able to attend the retrial. So we'll just have to let Assistant District Attorney Pomerantz read Gallagher's testimony from the last trial into the record.

A retrial where the D.A.'s office doesn't have to go through the formality of putting an alleged victim on the witness stand who's a fraud to justify convicting a defendant a second time for a crime that never happened.

No, this time around, the D.A.'s office wants to be allowed to convict again a defendant who was a scapegoat to begin with, a scapegoat who's already done his time, just because he's still breathing.

All for the sake of another headline that involves another priest getting convicted in the sex abuse scandal.

The D.A. can only hope that a fresh crop of gullible and brain-dead reporters will pack the stands for another show trial featuring everybody's favorite villain, a Catholic priest.

And all those gullible and brain dead reporters just mail it in. Like they did the first time.

In the dying days of journalism, it seems like another safe bet.


  1. It doesn't make sense that the prosecution can charge child endangerment when there was no harm to a child.

    Spanier would not have been convicted without the witness who claimed he was abused by Sandusky after the 2001 shower incident Spanier was told about.

  2. Spanier was only convicted because of the precedent set by Rufus Seth Williams in the Lynn case, where he twisted the child endangerment law to include supervisors, such as Lynn, and then Spanier.

    For crimes that happened before the child endangerment law was amended in 2007 to include supervisors.

    So one corrupt prosecution involving a twisted law begat another corrupt prosecution.

  3. Funny how Inquirer just mailed out notices that they are raising the rates for home delivery. For what? Tired of reading about convicted murderers getting paroled at Krasner's behest while this travesty continues. The incompetent Krasner will go down in history as the worst DA in Philadelphia - ever.

  4. Very tainted and bias article by a writer who writes for the National Catholic Reporter who has a personal ax to grind against Danny Gallager for exposing a couple of the many pedophile Catholic clergy.

  5. Slade, I'm sorry you feel this way. Nobody's ever accused me of being a good Catholic before. Aside from attacking the messenger, is there one fact in the above story that you can prove isn't true?

    1. Ralph, If you haven't seen his post, Slade's been 'chumming' on the Catholics4Change website (several months ago).

  6. Why won't the DA simply file a motion to simply dismiss the one charge remaining on Msgr Lynn? That would have been the best way to deepsix the case. Or there could have been an offer from the DA to have Lynn plead guilty to the single charge in exchange of a sentence of time served for the three months left in the prison sentence. Lynn won't plead guilty to something he didn't do. Interestingly the Archdiocese who has been paying Lynn's defense bills seems to have taken a very passive stance on the case as not to anger the Pope. The church is proceeding onward with a development project with a developer to build two condo towers on its current site and they obviously have received approval from the Pope. Judge Bright is making a fool of herself by playing on the charade with the DA who is making a greater fool out of himself with the narcissistic portrayal of the case

  7. Lynn isn't going to plead guilty to anything after all he's been through.

    This DA just wants some cheap headlines while he mounts yet another phony crusade against the church.

  8. If you take a close look at this case, you will see that three woman judges were assigned to the case so that they will handle it like a mother handles a baby especially when you have Danny Gallagher who perjures himself each time he takes the stand. No accident make judges were excluded from the case due to their brusque nature in granting motions to dismiss the case. Both Krasner and Bright need to be disbarred from the practice of law.

  9. Sarmina was so biased she was twice overturned.

    Ceisler was a gullible disaster from start to finish, obsessed only with keeping the train on schedule.

    This judge is keeping everything secret. To the detriment of the press and public.

  10. Question for Ralph
    In light of the DAs lack of actions with Ms. Movita-Johnson and her family, how can the DAs Office have ANY credibility for continuing with this charade. I do think Msgr Lynn did some things wrong by not coming forward about AOP actions - but Mr Shero and Fr Englehardt did nothing wrong. Someday the truth will come out

  11. In my opinion, the DA's office under Krasner, as well as this protection, have no credibility whatsoever.


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