This former Philly priest with a 30-year history of sexual abuse was just arrested again

WHYY Radio

September 5, 2019

By Max Marin

Federal authorities in Philadelphia have arrested a defrocked Catholic priest who has been accused of sexually abusing boys in area parishes since the 1980s.

Fr. Robert L. Brennan, 81, sat at the center of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s largest-ever settlement in a sex abuse case six years ago, which came after one of Brennan’s accusers died of a drug overdose at 26.

Brennan was arrested again early Thursday. Authorities say the ex-priest will be arraigned on new federal charges this afternoon in Philadelphia for allegedly lying to the FBI about his relationship to an accuser’s family.

Brennan’s arrest is first to come since federal prosecutors embarked on a sweeping probe of clergy sex abuse and coverups at Pennsylvania archdioceses last year. The priest had been suspended from duties since 2005 and was formally defrocked by the Vatican in 2017.

He was first named in a 2005 grand jury report which accused him of sexual or inappropriate behavior with more than 20 boys since the late 1980s. Under Pennsylvania’s lax statute of limitations on sexual offenses against minors, many of the charges were too old to pursue in court.

In 2012, one of Brennan’s alleged victims, Sean McIlmail, agreed to press charges against the priest. The man claimed his pastor began sexually abusing him in 1993, at Brennan’s then-parish in Northeast Philadelphia, when he was just 11 years old. But McIlmail, then 26, died of a drug overdose in Kensington days before the preliminary hearing. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office closed the case.

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