Philadelphia Press Conference Today
The News Release
November 13, 2013
Family of Sean Patrick McIlmail to File Lawsuit Naming Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Msgr.William Lynn, and Fr. Robert L. Brennan
Archdiocesan Officials had knowledge of Brennan’s inappropriate behavior with young boys as early as 1988
(Philadelphia, PA) - At a press conference today, Philadelphia-area Attorneys Marci Hamilton and Dan Monahan will announce the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of the estate and family of Sean Patrick McIlmail, a sexual abuse survivor who recently pressed charges against Father Robert L. Brennan. District Attorney Seth Williams announced the charges on September 26, 2013, but withdrew those charges on October 23, 2013, after Sean tragically passed away from an accidental drug overdose. Members of Sean’s family will also be present and will speak about Sean, his experience and the importance of pursuing truth and justice for Sean.
The lawsuit alleges that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Cardinal Bevilacqua, and Msgr. William Lynn knew of numerous child sexual abuse allegations against Robert L. Brennan at least ten years before Brennan sexually abused Sean. Brennan was sent for evaluation on numerous occasions after which the Archdiocese and its representatives persistently and intentionally misled parishioners, parents, and other priests about Brennan’s extreme risk to children, placing him back in ministry.
Whistleblowers came forward complaining about Brennan’s inappropriate behavior with minor boys only to go unnoticed and ignored. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Cardinal Bevilacqua and Msgr. William Lynn, negligently and recklessly assigned Brennan to positions with ample access to children, including St. Mary’s Parish in Schwenksville, PA, St. Ignatius Parish in Yardley, and Resurrection Parish in Rhawnhurst, among others.
WHEN: Wednesday November 13, 2013 at 1:00 PM EST
WHERE: Marriott Downtown, 12th and Market
· This is the 18th civil lawsuit filed by Hamilton, Monahan and Anderson involving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
· Copies of the Complaint will be available at the press conference.
Attorney Marci Hamilton said: “The McIlmail family is united, resolute, and uncommonly brave in the face of this terrible tragedy. Sean suffered debilitating shame and humiliation as a result of Brennan’s abuse of him, and struggled for years to deal with the abuse. His family did everything they possibly could to support him, and he had made dramatic strides over the last year. They are devastated that he lost his battle with drug addiction, which was caused by the extreme stress of dealing with the abuse, and the callous cover-up, by his home archdiocese, Philadelphia. Sean’s story is the horrific story of too many child sex abuse victims. It is time to bring the institutions that create the conditions for abuse to justice and to force out the full truth, so that we can turn the tide on America’s epidemic of child sex abuse and the institutions that let it happen. Legal justice is what Sean wanted and what he deserves.”
Attorney Daniel Monahan said: “As with all of the other cases we have filed against the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the abuse in this case never should have happened. Sean was only 2-years-old when the Archdiocese first learned about Brennan’s inappropriate acts with children. Had they done the right thing then, Sean would be with us here today, and he might have had the family he dreamed about. Instead, the McIlmail family has had to suffer the worst tragedy any parent can suffer, the loss of a child, because of the callous failures of the Archdiocese.”
Attorney Jeff Anderson said: "We are honored to stand beside Sean's family today. Sean courageously came forward and started the journey to hold Brennan and top Archdiocesan officials accountable and to help protect other children by reporting Brennan to law enforcement. This lawsuit is a continuation of those efforts and from this unspeakable horror we will continue to fight for truth and justice in Sean's memory and for all of the other brave survivors who have come forward and who are still suffering in shame, silence and secrecy."
Attorney and Professor Marci Hamilton is one of the United States’ leading church/state legal scholars, as well as an expert on child sex abuse in religious and secular institutions. Professor Hamilton holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, where she has taught for over 20 years. She is the author of God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press 2005), and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge 2008, 2012). Professor Hamilton is a 1988 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. She clerked for Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor of the United States Supreme Court. She is a resident of Bucks County. Contact: Office/212.790.0215 Mobile 215.353.8984
Attorney Dan Monahan has represented thousands of individuals including victims of crime in personal injury cases throughout Pennsylvania since graduating from Villanova Law School in 1978. He is a Board Certified Trial Advocate and admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Federal District Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Advocacy. He is a resident of Chester County.
Contact: Office/610.363.3888 Mobile/484.883.2901
Attorney Jeff Anderson (available by phone), is a St. Paul, Minnesota-based, trial lawyer widely recognized as a pioneer in sexual abuse litigation. One of the first trial lawyers in America to publicly and aggressively initiate suits against religious organizations and hold them responsible by utilizing the American civil justice system, Anderson has represented thousands of survivors of sexual abuse by authority figures and clergy. Contact: Office/651.227.9990 Mobile/612.817.8665