Catholic priest who escaped abuse accusations charged with false statements to the FBI

The Morning Call

Sept. 5, 2019

By Peter Hall

A former Catholic priest who escaped charges that he molested an 11-year-old altar boy when the alleged victim died has been charged in federal court with making false statements to the FBI.

In an indictment unsealed in federal court Thursday, Robert Brennan, 81, of Perryville, Maryland, who served at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Philadelphia from 1993 to 2004, is charged with four counts of making materially false statements to federal investigators. He is accused of lying about whether he knew the alleged victim or his family.

Brennan was arrested Thursday morning in Maryland and is set to appear in federal court in Philadelphia at 1:30 p.m.

“Making false statements to the FBI is a serious crime, and given the circumstances, the alleged false statements here are particularly disturbing,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. “We will use all of the tools at our disposal to hold this defendant accountable for his alleged actions.”

It is the first indictment out of a federal grand jury investigation McSwain launched in the wake of last year’s statewide grand jury report, which identified more than 300 priests in dioceses across Pennsylvania as abusers, including 37 in Allentown.

The state investigation resulted in only two clergy members being charged because so many of the accusations were too old to be prosecuted under the statute of limitations.

Legal experts said the federal investigation could break down the barrier to prosecuting the older accusations if prosecutors can show church officials had systematically covered up for child abusing priests in the last five years. Such evidence would allow a racketeering case against the church.

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