Star witness’ story in Philadelphia sex abuse trials doesn’t add up

National Catholic Reporter

by Ralph Cipriano | Apr. 29, 2013


Philadelphia —
On Jan. 17, a former priest named Edward V. Avery was sworn in as a witness in a Philadelphia courtroom. The man once known as the “smiling padre” was dressed in an ill-fitting baby-blue prison uniform and was missing his usual toupee.

What Avery had to say would stun courtroom observers and enrage a prosecutor.

Avery had been in jail nearly a year since March 22, 2012, when he pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and to conspiring with Msgr. William J. Lynn, the Philadelphia archdiocese’s former secretary for clergy, to endanger the welfare of a child. The victim of both crimes was a former 10-year-old altar boy identified in a 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report as “Billy Doe.”

The prosecutor who called Avery as a witness asked a simple question that nobody had bothered to ask the year before, when the former priest pleaded guilty: Did you do it?

In a calm voice, Avery said he had never touched Billy Doe.

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