Ex-philly Priest Charged in Rape of Former Altar Boy
By Mensah M. Dean
Philadelphia Daily News
September 27, 2013
A FORMER Philadelphia Catholic priest has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting an altar boy, the Philadelphia district attorney announced yesterday.
The Rev. Robert L. Brennan, 75, was arrested Wednesday night in Maryland and charged with rape and related crimes for allegedly abusing the boy from 1998 to 2001, when he was 11 to 14 years old. Brennan, who was in his early 60s at the time of the alleged assault, was an assistant pastor at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish, in the Northeast.
D.A. Seth Williams said the boy's abuse was facilitated by the inaction of Monsignor William Lynn, the disgraced former secretary of the clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Lynn, 62, who was convicted last year of child endangerment for failing to discipline predatory priests, is serving a three-to-six-year sentence in state prison. He has appealed.
Lynn failed to remove Brennan from his job at Resurrection parish after the pastor told him that staff saw Brennan inappropriately touching and wrestling boys, Williams said. Two years later, Brennan met and began abusing the boy whose allegations led to his arrest, the D.A. said.
The alleged abuse took place in the sacristy of the church, in Brennan's rectory bedroom, in a parish storage area and in a movie theater, Williams said.
The alleged victim, now 26, reported the abuse to church officials in January, and they contacted the D.A.'s office the same day, said Williams, who praised the church for its "sea change over previous protocol and practices."
He blasted Lynn for this case and for many more that cannot be prosecuted because they fall outside the statute of limitations. (Lynn is not charged in this case because the accuser's age puts his allegations three months beyond the criminal statute of limitations for endangering the welfare of a child.)
"The case of Robert Brennan is another example of how Monsignor William Lynn shielded predator priests from exposure and prosecution, which led to the victimization of countless Philadelphia-area children," Williams said.
Brennan sexually or inappropriately touched more than 20 boys at the various parishes where he worked, according to a 2005 grand-jury report, yet Lynn never reported any of those allegations to law enforcement, Williams said.
Brennan was removed from active ministry in September 2005 after the report and is in a canonical process aimed at his laicization, the Archdiocese said in a statement.
"Since arriving in Philadelphia, Archbishop [Charles J.] Chaput has reinforced the Archdiocese's strong commitment to work with law enforcement in ensuring justice for victims of sexual assault," the statement said.
Brennan, living in Maryland, was arrested late Wednesday by Perryville, Md., police and was being held in Cecil County, Md. He is to be extradited.
He was ordained in 1964 and worked at 11 Archdiocesan parishes between then and 2005.
Those who have information about Brennan to report to the D.A. are asked to call 215-686-8000.
To report an allegation of sexual abuse, call police or the Archdiocesan Office of Investigations at 1-888-930-9010.