Family's Outrage As "Predatory Pedophile Priest', 75, Escapes Rape Trial for Attack on 11-year-old Altar Boy in 1998 after His Victim Dies of a Drugs Overdose

By James Nye
Daily Mail
October 24, 2013

Philadelphia prosecutors today announced they have no choice but to drop child-rape charges against a priest because the only witness able to testify died two weeks ago of an overdose after battling substance abuse for years.

Sean McIlamil, 26, a former alter boy under Fr. Robert Brennan, came forward in January with startling allegations that the priest sexually abused him 15 years ago - but today his family spoke only of their grief and anger that Brennan will now walk free.

At a press conference today in the city his mother Debbie explained that her son spoke up because he wanted to be a voice against child abuse for his nephews sake's and other young children like them.

Tragic: Sean McIlmail is pictured here aged 14 with Rev. Robert L. Brennan in 2001 - Sean claimed that at the time of this picture he was still being abused by Brennan

District Attorney Seth Williams announced the decision regarding the Rev. Robert L. Brennan with the family of accuser Sean McIlmail by his side.

'I would hope that we could have brought Father Brennan to justice. It appears now that the only justice heíll have is in the afterlife,' Williams said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Williams said there is not enough other evidence to go forward with the case, which was filed after 26-year-old McIlmail contacted the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia this year.

This was not the first time that authorities in Philadelphia had received allegations against Brennan.

An explosive 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report said that he was repeatedly named in complaints about inappropriate behavior around children. He was suspended by the church, and moved to Perryville, Maryland.

'As a mother, I always had an instinct that there was something about this man I couldn't put my finger on,' Deborah McIlmail said. '(But) I didn't ever think it had anything to do with child abuse.'

'Sean suffered in silence for over a decade,' District Attorney Seth Williams said on Wednesday according to

Agony: Deborah McIlmail said that her son told the family about the abuse last year and that he went to the Philadelphia police in January and that he was thinking of his nephews when he battled to bring Brennan to justice

Pain: Michael P. McIlmail, and his younger sister, Kaitlyn M. McIlmail speak about their devastating loss

'Sean found his own way of self-medicating, which unfortunately led to his death.'

The alleged abuse began 15-years-ago when Sean was an 11-year-old altar boy at Resurrection Church in Northeast Philadelphia and Brennan was 60-years old.

The alleged assaults happened inside the church as well as off church grounds while Brennan was an assistant pastor.

'The assaults took place in the sacristy of the church, in Rev. Brennan's bedroom, in the rectory, in a storage area on parish property and in a movie theater," said Williams to NBC Philadelphia.

However, the McIlmail family did not know about the abuse which allegedly lasted three years until last year when he admitted it to his family and Sean went to police in January of this year.

Devoted: Sean is pictured here with his two nephews in whose name he was fighting for justice for - to stop any more abuse against children including that of Fr. Robert L. Brennan (left)

Devoted: Sean is pictured here with his two nephews in whose name he was fighting for justice for - to stop any more abuse against children including that of Fr. Robert L. Brennan (left)

Brennan was arrested in Perryville, Maryland on September 25th and charged with the rape of McIlmail.

Two Philadelphia grand juries in the past have described Brennan as a sexual predator who may have molested scores of boys but until last month all prior allegations against him had past the Statute of Limitations.

Defense lawyer Trevan Borum said Brennan had hoped to clear his name at trial.

'Iím not only sorry that somebody lost his life, but that we didnít have a chance to vindicate Father Brennan in court,' Borum said.

Sean McIlmail was a La Salle University graduate struggling with addiction and said Brennan had molested him from about 1998 to 2001, starting when he was 11.

Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia.

The archdiocese contacted city prosecutors, who have aggressively pursued clergy abuse cases under Williams.

After his arrest Brennan spent several weeks in prison before his bail was reduced and he was released.

Struggle: Sean was a La Salle University graduate struggling with addiction, had said Brennan had molested him from about 1998 to 2001

He had been due in court for a preliminary hearing last Thursday, when he was expected to face his accuser.

McIlmail was found dead in his car on the Sunday before this date.

He had been clean for seven months, and did not seem anxious about the hearing the previous Friday, family lawyer Marci Hamilton said. He had not yet testified before a grand jury.

'Everybody was just so happy about the progress he was making, and what a good frame of mind he was in,' she said.

Sean's mother, Deborah McIlmail, 57, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that her son told his father that he wanted to end the sexual abuse of children: 'Stop calling me a hero, I just want this to not happen.'

'He was a quiet. He was very shy. I never realized that he always felt shy. He had paranoid thoughts. He felt scared a lot of times. He had lots of friends. You would look at him and think you could sum him up, but he was much more complicated.'

He had been in and out of drug and alcohol treatment since graduating from college, and had not been able to hold down a job, Hamilton said. He was living with his parents near Philadelphia.

Two other men have filed civil suits alleging abuse by Brennan.

McIlmailís mother and siblings appeared at the news conference with Williams, but did not speak. Prosecutors also displayed a picture of McIlmail with Brennan at age 14, and a recent one of him with his young nephews.

'When he decided to come forward, he told his family the reason he wanted to come forward now was for his two nephews,' Williams said. 'He didnít want any more innocent children to be the victim of child sexual abuse.'








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