"Father Andy" Faces His Accuser

By Ralph Cipriano
Big Trial
February 27, 2014

St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg

His troubles with "Father Andy" began when his mother confided to the priest that her son might be gay.

The alleged victim, now 26, testified in court today that when he was a 10-year-old altar boy, the priest brought him to his room in a church rectory, and sexually assaulted him.

Then, after the alleged attack, the victim testified the priest would repeatedly tell him on the playground that homosexuality was a sin, and so was masturbation.

How did that make him feel, the prosecutor asked?

"Horrible," the young man testified. "As a homosexual, if it's a sin, it means I'm going to hell."

To the alleged victim, the priest's words meant that what happened in the rectory must have been the altar boy's fault.

"I thought that was supposed to happen to me because of what I am," the tearful man told the jury.

In Courtroom 1102 in the Criminal Justice Center today, Father Andrew McCormick stood to hear the court clerk read the charges against him.

The 57-year-old priest of 30 years is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, sexual assault of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault.

When asked how he pleaded, the priest responded by saying "Not Guilty" five times in a loud, clear voice.

The victim in the case is a 26-year-old business manager for a large New York cosmetics firm. He's a slender man with blonde highlights who probably gets carded at every bar he walks into.

The alleged victim testified that his relationship with "Father Andy" began when he became an altar boy in the third grade at St. John Cantius Church, a Polish parish in the Bridesburg section of the city.

"He asked me if I wanted to be an altar boy," the alleged victim testified about Father Andy. At first, it was great. The altar boy got out of class to serve at Mass. He got paid to do funerals. Father Andy treated him to burgers and fries at McDonald's. He also got free soda and cookies at the rectory.

"It was fun," the alleged victim testified. "I thought it was great. I thought he [Father Andy] was my friend."

At the time, the altar boy had a troubled home life. He had to repeat the third grade. His parents were having problems that eventually would lead to a divorce. And the altar boy already knew what his mother suspected was true, that he was gay.

Sadly, Father Andy also knew he was gay, the alleged victim testified.

Father Andy showered the altar boy with attention and treats. He would meet him while the boy was walking to school. He would rub the boy's back when they were together in the sacristy.

The altar boy felt like Father Andy was taking "me under his wing," the alleged victim testified.

Then, sometime during the 1997-98 school year, Father Andy asked the altar boy to serve at an evening Mass. After Mass, the priest took the boy over to the rectory, where the altar boy "had two cookies and a Dr. Pepper."

The priest asked the altar boy if he wanted to see his room. "A priest's house," the alleged victim testified. He said he thought visiting a priest's house would be "very cool."

But according to the alleged victim, when they entered the priest's room, Father Andy "started fumbling with" a door that led to a common meeting room inside the rectory. The altar boy thought the priest was locking that door.

As soon as the door was closed, the alleged victim testified, Father Andy attacked.

"He started undressing himself and he started undressing me," the alleged victim told the jury. "He started touching my butt, my genitals."

"I was just in shock," the man testified. He recalled hearing the priest's "heavy breathing." The alleged victim said he found himself staring at the priest's garb.

"He had a coat with 32 buttons," the alleged victim testified. He counted every one. He said he watched as the priest took off his shirt and pants. The priest had "blue plaid boxers on" under his pants. He took his shoes off but left his sox on.

In contrast to the slender priest at the defense table, the alleged victim testified that Father Andy "was a lot bigger" 17 years ago, when the attack allegedly happened.

"He grabbed my arm and had me touch his genitals," the alleged victim testified. "His stomach was pressing against" the altar boy's face.

"I laid back on the bed. He puled his penis out."

The priest tried "forcing his penis into my mouth," the alleged victim testified. He told the jury he kept his teeth clenched. "I put my head to the side and said, 'No.'" But the priest tried to penetrate him orally again, the alleged victim said. He told the jury he continued to resist.

"He [Father Andy] told me to get out," the alleged victim told the jury. "I started putting on my clothes real quick."

Over at the defense table, Father McCormick was turning red.

On the witness stand, the victim testified that after the attack, he went downstairs and tried to call his mother three times on the rectory phone. When he got no answer, he walked home, a trip that took about 15 minutes.

Why didn't he tell anybody that night what had happened, asked Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp.

"I was scared," the alleged victim said. "It was a secret."

At 11, the victim told the prosecutor he repeatedly tried to commit suicide.

"I remember trying to hang myself a lot," the alleged victim said. "Almost every week ... I didn't want to live any more ... Everything I thought was wrong."

At 11, he was watching a TV show about molestation with his cousin.

"That has happened to me," the alleged victim said he told his cousin.

His next admission came when he was a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School on a retreat. The alleged victim said he told a group of students, and a teacher, "I've been molested by somebody."

In 2011, the alleged victim heard in the media that Father Andy was one of 26 priests suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for possible inappropriate contact with minors.

That night, the alleged victim told the jury, he had a nightmare that Father Andy was attacking another boy. In the nightmare, "He [Father Andy] was doing this to my five-year-old nephew and I couldn't do anything about it," the alleged victim testified.

So the alleged victim told his father that the priest had abused him. Then he told his grandfather, a retired police detective, who took a statement, and turned it over to the police.

When police arrested Father Andy, he was the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Bridgeport, Montgomery County. Father Andy is no longer allowed to say Mass publicly or perform any other priestly duties.

About nine of Father Andy's former parishioners were in the courtroom today to support the priest. They sat on the left side of the courtroom, behind the defense table. On the other side of the courtroom, the alleged victim's family and friends were there to support him.

When court was over today, clerks escorted each group of partisans out through separate exits.

The alleged victim had a red face, and was dabbing his eyes with tissues when Assistant District Attorney Kemp asked, "Why are you doing this?" meaning why did this young man come to court to tell his story.

"So this does not happen to another little boy," the alleged victim responded.

He told the prosecutor he has not filed any civil lawsuit against the archdiocese.

On cross-examination, defense lawyer Richard J. Fuschino tried to point out inconsistencies in the alleged victim's testimony.

At that evening Mass you served with Father Andy, did you work alone or was there another altar boy assigned to that Mass, Fuschino asked.

"I'm 100 percent sure it was alone," the alleged victim testified.

But at a preliminary hearing last year, Fuschino said, you testified you didn't recall for sure whether you were working alone as an altar boy that night. "Did your memory get better" in the last year, Fuschino asked.

"Objection, argumentative," Assistant District Attorney Kemp said.

"Sustained," said Judge Gwendolyn Bright.

Why didn't you tell anybody about the attack, the defense lawyer wanted to know.

"It was a secret," the alleged victim testified.

You use that word secret a lot, Fuschino said. When you were 11 years old, and told your cousin you had been molested, did you tell her to keep it a secret?

Yes, the alleged victim responded.

You say you're not suing the archdiocese for money, the defense lawyer asked. But didn't you go see a lawyer to check out a possible civil lawsuit?

"I went to see a lawyer," the alleged victim conceded. But it was for his own protection. He did not file any civil lawsuit.

The alleged victim said he talked to the lawyer for his own protection. He is not seeking money from the archdiocese, he insisted.

"I have a full-time job," the alleged victim testified. "I don't need money. I have a very successful career."








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