Philly Priest on Trial in Single-accuser Case
February 24, 2014
A judge issued a gag order Monday as another Roman Catholic priest prepares to go on trial in Philadelphia over abuse claims.
A former altar boy has accused the Rev. Andrew McCormick of sexually assaulting him after Mass one day in 1997.
McCormick, 57, vows to fight the charges. His lawyer has previously called the accuser "opportunistic," suggesting he came forward after McCormick was publicly suspended, perhaps with an eye to suing the church.
The accuser contacted police in 2012, and said news accounts of the Penn State and Philadelphia archdiocese sex-abuse trials had compelled him to come forward. He said he had been sexually assaulted in a rectory bedroom.
McCormick had been one of about two dozen priests suspended a year earlier, after a blistering 2011 grand jury report found many accused priests still in ministry. McCormick had been accused of boundary issues and inappropriate behavior in 2004.
McCormick had spent three decades as a priest in the Philadelphia archdiocese, and regularly took young boys on trips to Poland, authorities said when they announced his arrest.
Defense lawyer William Brennan, speaking Monday before the gag order was imposed, described the trial accuser's complaint as a "lone, unsubstantiated, decades-old allegation."
Philadelphia prosecutors have been investigating priest-abuse allegations in Philadelphia for a decade, and gained several convictions for child sexual abuse.
More notably, the office won a 2012 trial conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, the first U.S. church supervisor ever charged with felony child endangerment for keeping pedophiles in ministry. However, an appeals court overturned the conviction in December, finding the law was misapplied. Lynn was released from prison after serving 18 months, about half his minimum sentence. Prosecutors are appealing.
Lynn remains on house arrest at a city rectory, waiting to hear if the state Supreme Court will hear the appeal.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia archdiocese announced this weekend that it would permanently remove two more accused priests from ministry, after finding complaints of long-ago abuse credible.