UPDATED: Witness unleashes fury at Catholic church during priest abuse trial

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The Post Mercury (Pottstown, PA)

Posted: 04/30/12 03:50 pm

Updated: 04/30/12 05:23 pm

By Maryclaire Dale

Associated Press

(Updated at 5:22 p.m.) PHILADELPHIA — A 47-year-old man has unleashed his fury at the Roman Catholic church, staring down a church official in a Philadelphia courtroom as he described how a priest forced him to engage in sex acts when he was a boy.

The man glared Monday at defendant Monsignor William Lynn and broke down when he recalled telling his mother about the alleged abuse by defrocked priest David Sicoli (suh-KOL’-ee).

The Associated Press generally does not name possible sex-abuse victims. A working phone number for Sicoli in Sea Isle, N.J., could not be found.

The 61-year-old Lynn is charged with endangering children by keeping accused priests in ministry as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. He has pleaded not guilty.His lawyers argue that he took orders from the cardinal.


PHILADELPHIA — A man accusing a priest of sexual assault dropped a separate allegation against the same priest, the judge in an internal Catholic church trial testified Monday.

Monsignor Kevin Quirk, a canon lawyer who presided over Brennan’s 2008 church trial, took the stand Monday in the Rev. James Brennan’s criminal priest-abuse trial in Philadelphia.

Quirk, now in West Virginia, detailed allegations that Brennan sexually assaulted a 14-year-old during a 1996 sleepover at the priest’s apartment.

On cross-examination, Quirk said he never delved into the man’s second allegation because the accuser withdrew that complaint. That involved an accusation that Brennan abused the teen — apparently in a garden shed — when he was performing court-ordered community service at the parish.

Defense lawyer William Brennan, who is not related to his client, noted that the jury has heard about priests accused of molesting a dozen boys over many years, but James Brennan was removed quickly after the archdiocese received the complaint in 2006, because of new church guidelines on handling abuse complaints.

“Brennan gets one accuser who backs off the shed story, and he’s on trial?” the defense lawyer asked Quirk.

Prosecutors objected, and Quirk was not allowed to answer.

Quirk spent several hours on the witness stand Monday, reading Brennan’s testimony from the canon trial into the record. The outcome of the church trial is not yet clear, but the 48-year-old Brennan remains a priest.

According to Quirk, canon law dictates that witnesses give sworn testimony at church trials, but the accused priests do not take an oath before testifying.

Brennan admitted during the canon trial that he showed the 14-year-old pornography on his computer and that they slept in the same bed, but he denied any physical contact with him.

The sleepover took place in Chester County, while the priest was on leave. He admitted to the archdiocese that another teen lived with him for several months at the family’s request.

The late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua noted in a file that Brennan sought leave in 1996 to deal with his own childhood sexual abuse. Brennan later denied saying that he had been sexually abused.

He has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges, which include attempted rape.

Brennan met the accuser in about 1990 when he worked at a parish in Newtown, Bucks County. He worked at Cardinal O’Hara High School from 1991 to 1996, where he said he became close to a half-dozen students from the theater crew.

A group of nuns complained then to the archdiocese that Brennan was living with several teens or young men, and that they had loud parties.

Monsignor William Lynn, the archdiocese’s longtime secretary for clergy, is on trial with Brennan, charged with endangering children by leaving dozens of accused priests in ministry.


2 Responses to UPDATED: Witness unleashes fury at Catholic church during priest abuse trial

  1. Sylvia says:

    “According to Quirk, canon law dictates that witnesses give sworn testimony at church trials, but the accused priests do not take an oath before testifying.”

    Now why, pray tell, are the “accused priests” not required take an oath before testifying at Church trials? Does this make sense? Does this make one single ounce of sense?

    I must check into this.

    A question: Do some – all? – canon lawyers believe it’s fair game for accused priests to lie at canonical proceedings as long as they are not under oath?

  2. deeplybetrayed says:

    If their oaths mean no more than their vows of priesthood, then would it matter?
    Above the law again?
    I would like to see all computers that belong to all clergy checked at random for child porn. Their positions command it. It is a crime – they should be happy to allow it if they are innocent. Computers nowadays are like guns in the 50s.

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