Accuser in Philadelphia Priest Trial Withdrew 1 Complaint against Reverend James Brennan
By Maryclaire Dale
April 30, 2012
|The Rev. James Brennan of Philadelphia |
A 47-year-old man unleashed his fury Monday at the Roman Catholic Church, staring down a church official in a Philadelphia courtroom as he described being forced as a child to engage in sex acts with a priest.
The man glared Monday at Monsignor William Lynn at the defense table and complained that only one church representative, a priest friend, had ever apologized.
"It always felt wrong. A man should not touch a child," said the man, the ninth of 10 children in his Levittown family.
Testifying in the sixth week of a clergy abuse trial focusing on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the man broke down when he recalled telling his mother in 1998 about being abused by defrocked priest David Sicoli in the late 1970s.
Sicoli molested him at the priest's shore home in Sea Isle, N.J., in the priest's red-and-white sports car and on other occasions, the man testified. Like other accusers who have testified, the boy worked at the rectory, and his mother had hopes of him becoming a priest.
The Associated Press generally doesn't name people who say they have been sexually abused.
A 2005 grand jury report alleged that Sicoli abused at least a dozen boys and said the archdiocese had suspicions about the priest before he was sent to Levittown. A phone number for Sicoli in Sea Isle couldn't be found.
The 61-year-old Lynn is charged with endangering children by keeping accused priests in ministry after reviewing abuse complaints kept in secret archives when he served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. His lawyers argue that he took orders from the cardinal.
Lynn is on trial with the Rev. James Brennan, who is charged with the attempted rape of a 14-year-old in 1996, when Brennan was on voluntary leave and the boy slept over at his West Chester apartment.
Brennan's lawyer raised questions Monday about his client's accuser.
During a 2008 church trial on the sex assault charges, the accuser dropped an allegation that Brennan had abused him years later when he was doing court-ordered community service, according to testimony.
Monsignor Kevin Quirk, a canon lawyer who presided at the church trial, read Brennan's 2008 testimony aloud. He admitted showing the boy pornography and sharing a bed but denied any sexual contact.
On cross-examination, a defense lawyer asked why Quirk never questioned Brennan about another accusation of an assault in a garden shed.
"The accuser ... had withdrawn that portion of the accusation," Quirk said.
The outcome of Brennan's church trial remains clear, but the 48-year-old remains a priest.
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 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.