Family of Late Man Who Accused Priest of Abuse Sues Archdiocese
By Mensah M. Dean
Philadelphia Daily News
November 14, 2013
THE FAMILY of the man who died of a drug overdose last month just before testifying in court against the Catholic priest he accused of sexually molesting him filed a wrongful-death lawsuit yesterday against the priest and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The civil suit filed in Common Pleas Court by the family of Sean Patrick McIlmail alleges that the church failed to remove Father Robert L. Brennan from having contact with children even after officials learned he had behaved inappropriately with numerous boys.
McIlmail, 26, died of a drug overdose Oct. 13, which led to the abrupt cancellation of a preliminary hearing for Brennan, 75. Criminal charges against him are expected to be formally dropped at a court hearing today.
"Sean appeared good on the outside, but on the inside, he didn't believe in himself," Sean's mother, Deborah, said at a news conference yesterday. "The unspeakable, disgusting horrors that had happened to Sean by Father Robert L. Brennan would haunt Sean forever."
The Archdiocese had no comment on the lawsuit, a spokeswoman said.
"I would have hoped that we could have brought Father Brennan to justice," District Attorney Seth Williams said Oct. 23 while announcing that the charges would be dropped. "It appears now the only justice he'll get will be in the afterlife, unless we have other victims."
McIlmail reported the alleged abuse in January, which led to Brennan's arrest on rape and related charges in September.
McIlmail alleged that Brennan raped and molested him from 1998 to 2001, starting when he was an 11-year-old altar boy at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. The abuse allegedly took place in the sacristy of the church, in Brennan's rectory bedroom, in a parish storage area and in a movie theater.
A grand-jury report in 2005 alleged that Brennan sexually or inappropriately touched more than 20 boys at the various parishes where he worked. He was not charged in those cases.
Brennan was removed from active ministry in September 2005 after the report was released.
Brennan's criminal attorney, Trevan Borum, has said his client was not guilty and regretted not having the chance to clear his name in court.