Philly Priest Abused 10-year-old Boy after Mom Sought Advice about Boy's Sexuality
By Maryclaire Dale
February 27, 2014
A Roman Catholic priest assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy after the boy's mother met with the priest about her son's sexuality, a prosecutor said Thursday as another clergy-abuse trial opened in Philadelphia.
The Rev. Andrew McCormick, 57, is not accused of being a serial abuser, and the case involves just one encounter in 1997. However, jurors will hear from a second young man whose family complained to the church that McCormick had grown too close to him.
That 2004 complaint led the Philadelphia archdiocese to suspend McCormick in 2011, along with more than 20 other priests found to be in ministry despite allegations involving children.
The trial accuser came forward in 2012 to say McCormick had sexually assaulted him in 1997. News accounts of the child sex-assault cases involving Penn State and the Philadelphia archdiocese prompted him to call police, he said. McCormick was charged with child sexual assault, child endangerment and other charges.
The young man had told a cousin and a classmate part of the story while growing up; both are expected to testify.
Still, defense lawyer William J. Brennan asked why no one else has alleged they were molested during McCormick's 30-year church career, which included trips he took to Poland with young boys.
"He had (access to) a steady stream of 10-year-olds for decades. So why is he not a serial predator?" Brennan said Thursday in his opening statement.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault without their consent.
Philadelphia prosecutors have been investigating priest-abuse reports for more than a decade and have won several convictions. The most notable case, the child-endangerment conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, who long handled abuse complaints for the archdiocese, was recently thrown out on appeal. However, prosecutors have asked the state Supreme Court to reinstate it.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp told jurors not to expect any smoking guns. Child sex-abuse cases often involve one person's word — or memories — against the other's.
"This isn't CSI, where some hair fiber is going to break the case," she said, referring to the popular TV crime show.
The trial attracted about a dozen supporters apiece for McCormick and his accuser, and is scheduled to last another week.
The accuser, now 26, is expected to testify that McCormick undressed him, fondled him and tried to engage in oral sex in a rectory bedroom.
Brennan pledged Thursday not to attack the young man's character, and called his family "fine, wonderful people."