“Priest sex abuse jurors ask: What’s an ‘ephebophile?’” & “Jurors in clergy abuse trial ask about rape, conspiracy charges”

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philly.com

Posted: Wed, Jun. 6, 2012, 1:33 PM

By John P. Martin and Joseph A. Slobodzian

INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

After spending two days asking the judge to explain complex questions about the law, jurors at the clergy-sex abuse trial apparently can’t even agree on the meaning of “agree.”

On Wednesday, the panel asked Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina for a definition of the word. They also wanted evidence related to 13 accused priests who were mentioned during the 11-week trial, and for definitions of the terms “pedophile” and “ephebophile.”

The requests marked the third time in as many days of deliberations that the panel of seven men and five women has sought guidance or evidence as they weigh the child endangerment and other charges against Msgr. William J. Lynn and the Rev. James J. Brennan.

The judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers planned to take the lunch break to hash out the answers. Sarmina asked that jurors be brought to her courtroom at 2:05 p. m.

The lawyers agreed that pedophiles generally refer to adults who are sexually attracted to children and that ephebophiles are generally drawn to adolescents. But they disagreed about what, if anything, they should tell jurors.

Alan J. Tauber, one of four lawyers for Lynn, noted that neither side offered an expert during the trial to define the terms. He said it would be wrong to do so now.

“The parties chose how they were going to present the case,” he said. “I think they have to rely on the evidence.”

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington agreed. “The words have both medical and common definitions,” he said.

Jurors also said they wanted to understand what it means to “agree” in a conspiracy. The judge said she would probably reread them her jury instruction, which explained it as “a common understanding.”

Lynn, the former clergy secretary for the archdiocese, is accused of conspiracy and endangering children by recommending a priest, Edward Avery, for assignments in the 1990s despite alleged signs they might abuse minors. Avery, who has since been defrocked has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999.

Brennan is accused of trying to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996, and of endangering other unnamed children as a parish priest in the years that followed.

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Jurors in clergy abuse trial ask about rape, conspiracy charges

philly.com

June 05, 2012

By John P. Martin and and Joseph A. Slobodzian and INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

On their first full day of deliberations Monday, jurors in the landmark sex-abuse trial of two Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests weren’t shy about asking questions.

They asked for the definitions of attempted rape, and then rape itself. (They got them.) They wanted to know if they had to wait until reaching verdicts on both defendants before notifying the court staff. (They did.)

And, in a question that stirred a spirited courtroom debate, they asked Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to clarify what they needed to conclude that there had been a conspiracy within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to endanger children.

After about five hours of deliberations, the panel of five women and seven men ended the day without a verdict. They will gather again Tuesday morning.

The judge, the prosecutors, and the lawyers for the defendants, Msgr. William J. Lynn and the Rev. James J. Brennan, were careful not to read too much into the questions.

Still they battled over what to tell the panel, particularly on the question of a conspiracy charge against Lynn, the former clergy secretary accused of covering up or enabling child sex abuse.

Prosecutors say Lynn conspired to endanger children when he allowed Edward Avery, a former priest, to live and celebrate Mass at St. Jerome Church in Northeast Philadelphia despite knowing that Avery had molested a teen decades earlier. Avery has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in the church in 1999.

The jurors were not told during the 11-week trial about Avery’s guilty plea, or why Avery, a defrocked priest who had been present during jury selection, was no longer a defendant in the case.

But his victim took the witness stand during the trial and testified that the priest twice ordered him to perform a striptease and engage in oral sex.

After gathering for barely an hour Monday morning, the jurors asked to see all the trial evidence regarding Avery. They also asked the judge to explain if a conspiracy involving Lynn had to include Avery and others in the archdiocese. They underlined and.

Lynn’s lawyers pounced on the question, seizing on the possibility that jurors might be struggling to accept that Avery knowingly schemed with Lynn and others to put him in a position to abuse children. They urged Sarmina to instruct jurors that they could not find Lynn guilty of such a conspiracy without proof that Avery was part of the plot.

1 Response to “Priest sex abuse jurors ask: What’s an ‘ephebophile?’” & “Jurors in clergy abuse trial ask about rape, conspiracy charges”

  1. Sylvia says:

    Does this look like it’s heading toward a hung jury to you?  I’m afraid it does.

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