30 July 2012
By Joseph A. Slobodzian, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Arrested Thursday and charged with sexually assaulting an altar boy, the Rev. Andrew McCormick turned to a lawyer who knew the terrain – William J. Brennan Jr., just one month off of representing another priest in the recent Philadelphia Catholic clergy sex-abuse trial.
Brennan on Monday confirmed that he had been hired to represent McCormick, 56, charged with molesting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997 while he served at St. John Cantius parish in Bridesburg.
McCormick, arrested Thursday night at his parents’ home in Pottstown, was released Friday night after posting the required 10 percent of his $150,000 bail. McCormick is set for an Aug. 17 preliminary hearing in Municipal Court.
“Father McCormick is presumed innocent under the law of this lone allegation that dates back to the ’90s,” Brennan said. “I have already received numerous contacts from people who have known him and who will support Father McCormick.”
Brennan, a veteran Center City criminal defense attorney, recently defended the Rev. James J. Brennan, who is not related, in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court trial in which Brennan was accused of attempted rape and child endangerment involving a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
The jury on June 22 said it could not reach a verdict in the counts against Brennan, 49, and the District Attorney’s office has announced that it will retry him.
According to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, McCormick was ordained in 1982 and spent four years at Saint Adalbert parish in Port Richmond, was at St. John Cantius from 1986 to 2000 and St. Bede the Venerable parish in Holland, Bucks County from 2000 to 2004.
Last year, McCormick was in his seventh year as pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Bridgeport, Montgomery County, when church officials included him on a list of 26 Roman Catholic priests suspended from ministry for possible child misconduct.
The archdiocese announcement did not describe why McCormick was included on last year’s list. In a statement Friday, church officials said the alleged incident that led to McCormick’s arrest “is a new allegation to the archdiocese.”
William Brennan confirmed that McCormick was on “administrative leave” from the Bridgeport parish but said he could not discuss what led to his suspension last year.
At a news conference Friday, District Attorney Seth Williams said McCormick’s alleged victim, now 25, came forward and contacted police sex-crimes investigators in December after charges were filed against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and the pending trial of Brennan and codefendant Msgr. William J. Lynn.
Lynn, 61, who was Secretary for Clergy from 1992 to 2004, the church official responsible for investigating allegations against priests for sexual abuse of minors, was found guilty of one count of child endangerment. He was sentenced July 24 to three to six years in prison. His lawyers, who have said they will appeal, return to court Aug. 6 to argue that Lynn should be free on bail pending appeal.
Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, email@example.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.