Former Altar Boy Reveals Grim Details of Philadelphia Priest’s Alleged Sex Abuse
By Carol Kuruvilla
New York Daily News
February 28, 2014
|The Rev. Andrew McCormick is accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy inside a rectory bedroom in 1997.|
A former altar boy opened up in court on Thursday about the abuse he allegedly endured under the hands of a trusted Roman Catholic priest.
The Rev. Andrew McCormick, 57, quietly listened to the unidentified young man speak about the sexual encounter that left him scarred at the age of 10.
"I remember trying to hang myself a lot. ... Probably every week," the man, now 26, told a Philadelphia courtroom. "I couldn't deal with the guilt of what had happened, or what I am."
McCormick has pleaded not guilty to the crime. The priest, who worked at St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg at the time, has been placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was arrested in July 2012, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
The boy’s mother had gone to McCormick for counseling back in 1997, suspecting her son was gay. Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp said that McCormick gained the boy’s trust by plying him with treats and giving him the run of the rectory.
The day of the alleged attack was a “Holy Day of Obligation” when Catholics are required to attend Mass. The boy visited the rectory after the service to eat some cookies and Dr. Pepper with the man he called “Father Andy.” The priest then reportedly lured the boy up to his bedroom, where he undressed them both. The accuser said McCormick fondled him and tried to initiate oral sex.
"I was in shock. I couldn't believe this was happening to me," the alleged victim said.
|The accuser initially thought he was molested by Roman Catholic priest Andrew McCormick as punishment for being gay.|
During the weeks after the attack, McCormick reportedly issued dire warnings to the child about God’s attitudes toward homosexuality and masturbation.
The talks made the boy feel “horrible.” He initially thought McCormick was punishing him for being gay.
"If it's a sin, it means I'm going to hell," the man said in court, his voice breaking at times.
The accuser said that he had gone on to have a “successful” career, but claimed he attempted suicide multiple times and struggled with drugs and alcohol for a decade.
Defense attorney William J. Brennan asked jurors not to pre-judge McCormick because of other abuse cases involving priests.
The priest’s lawyer claimed the accuser’s struggles with addiction might have clouded his memory. He also questioned why no one else has made allegations against McCormick.
|McCormick faces misdemeanor counts of endangerment and indecent assault.|
"This is the only individual who has made a claim of molestation. How many other altar boys did [McCormick] have access to? If that's his M.O., how did others escape?" said Brennan.
Philadelphia prosecutors have been investigating priest-abuse reports for more than a decade and have won several convictions. McCormick is one of 25 priests who were suspended in December 2011 for possible inappropriate contact with minors, The Inquirer reports. The accuser didn’t come forward about the alleged abuse until after the suspensions.
He now works for a New York design company and claims he isn’t in it for the money.
"I have a full-time job," said the witness. "I don't need money. I have a very successful career."
But he apparently decided to launch a lawsuit against McCormick after he had a nightmare about the priest molesting his young nephew.
"I don't want this to happen to any other little boy," he said.
The trial scheduled to last through the end of next week.
With News Wire Services