Judge Considers Allowing Evidence in Philadelphia Priest Child Sex Abuse Case

By Tony Hanson
CBS Philly
January 23, 2012

Edward Avery, Charles Engelhardt, James Brennan, Bernard Shero, and William Lynn are charged in connection with sex crimes against children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese

Much of the case against five men (three priests, a monsignor and a lay teacher) in the priest sex abuse is private, because of a gag order, but today KYW Newsradio got a remarkable look inside. The judge is considering whether to allow certain evidence that the prosecution wants to admit to present at trial.

The prosecution wants to present evidence of alleged prior bad acts by the defendants. In some cases, the acts go back decades and the allegations are stunning.

The prosecution has detailed evidence alleging defendant Edward Avery, who is charged with one count of rape, has sexually assaulted over a half dozen boys since the early 1970’s. And, prosecutors have presented evidence of countless inquiries, reports or notice to the archdiocese by victims, their family members, other parishioners, even clergy of alleged abuse or rumor of abuse.

The evidence also details what the prosecution calls “willful blindness by the Archdiocese” so as not to cause scandal and at the same time allowing suspects — who the authorities call “predator priests” — to remain in positions to abuse children. One prosecutor has called the archdiocese an unindicted co-conspirator.

READ: CBS Philly’s Complete Coverage Of The Philadelphia Priest Sex Abuse Scandal

Now, the defendants in this case are charged with assaulting two boys, but authorities say there were a series of incidents.

The defense argues that this evidence should not go before the jury, that it’s not specifically charged against the defendants, that the statute of limitations on these alleged acts has expired, that it’s impossible to get witnesses to these incidents that went back decades. And, in many cases, the defense says the allegations are not true.

There have been some heated exchanges today in court. At one point, the judge warned attorney William J. Brennan (who suggested that nuns who had implicated his clients were “rats, wimps and whiners,”) he would be removed from the courtroom if he spoke out of turn. And, at one point, she said he would have to raise his hand if he wanted to speak in court.








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