Priest with Lower Makefield Ties Charged with Child Abuse
By Jo Ciavaglia
September 26, 2013
|Father Robert Brennan served at St. Ignatius Catholic Church for six months in 1989.|
A Catholic priest who briefly served at a Lower Makefield church has been charged with sexually assaulting a Philadelphia man starting when the man was an 11-year-old altar boy at a Northeast Philadelphia church.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced the charges against the Rev. Robert Brennan, 75, at a news conference Thursday. He is charged with rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and aggravated assault.
Brennan was arrested Wednesday in Maryland, where he has been living since he was suspended following a 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report. He remains an ordained priest, but was removed from active ministry in 2005, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Brennan is suspected of abusing more than 20 children, according to the grand jury report. But in 2005, prosecutors said the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution had expired.
He served at St. Ignatius Catholic Church for about six months in fall 1989, according to his archdiocese profile. Robert Brennan is not related to the Rev. James J. Brennan, who faces retrial after a jury last year could not reach a verdict in his case of alleged sexual abuse of children.
The allegations against Robert Brennan surfaced last year at the trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first Catholic church official convicted for his supervisory role in covering up the conduct of pedophile priests. Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in Philadelphia, is serving a three- to six-year sentence handed down in July 2012 for endangering a child. He has appealed his conviction in Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Prosecutors in the Lynn trial introduced details of Robert Brennan’s case to show that Lynn and others in the archdiocese had a longstanding practice of moving abusive priests to different parishes rather than notifying authorities.
Robert Brennan’s accuser is a 26-year-old Philadelphia man who alleges the priest sexually assaulted him between 1998 and 2001 when he was an altar boy at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Northeast Philadelphia, according to attorney Marci Hamilton, who is representing the man and two other alleged victims of Brennan’s in civil cases against the archdiocese.
Her two other clients were allegedly abused by Brennan, when he was assistant pastor at Resurrection, Hamilton said.
Hamilton said the 26-year-old man first came to her firm about a year ago, around the same time he went to the archdiocese and Philadelphia DA’s Office with his allegations. His civil suit against the archdiocese won’t be filed until after the criminal case is finished, Hamilton said.
“Some of our clients who were abused by Father Brennan were not able to see justice done in the criminal courts because of the statute of limitations; however, they are grateful to know that other brave survivors are willing to come forward,” she added.
DA Williams said the alleged assaults on the 26-year-old man occurred inside the church and rectory and off church property at a movie theater.
“Brennan ... brought these boys into his fold and acted loving toward them,” Hamilton said. “The abuse wasn’t decades ago. There was abuse going on in this century. The constant theme by the archdiocese (is) that this is all in the past and this is just not true.”