Jury to Resume Deliberating in Priest Abuse Case

By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Philadelphia Inquirer
March 7, 2014

The Rev. Andrew McCormick exits the Criminal Justice Center after a hearing, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

A Philadelphia jury is to resume deliberations Friday in the case against the Rev. Andrew McCormick, a Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy at a Bridesburg parish in 1997.

The jury of nine women and three men spent three hours Thursday reviewing the evidence before going home.

McCormick, 57, is charged with sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, child endangerment, and corruption of a minor.

Earlier Thursday, the jury - and a packed courtroom - heard emotional closings by defense lawyer William J. Brennan Jr. and Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp.

"These are tough, tough, tough, ugly cases," Brennan told the jury.

Brennan urged jurors not to be swayed by the fact that his client is a priest - or by the child sex-abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church. He also argued that the now-26-year-old accuser's memory and understanding of what happened in 1997 - not publicly divulged until December 2011 - was clouded by his personal turmoil: accepting his homosexuality and his parents' separation, followed by years of alcohol and drug abuse.

"It's going to come down to, I submit, whether you believe [the accuser] or Father McCormick," Brennan said.

Kemp argued that the accuser's murky memory, drug and alcohol abuse, and refusal to come forward and press charges for 14 years were consistent with reactions of other child sex-abuse victims.

"This was a 10-year-old boy in shock," Kemp told the jury. "There is no guideline, there is no rule book."

Kemp said corroboration of the alleged victim's story came through testimony of other former altar boys at St. John Cantius parish. Although no other witness said McCormick molested him, all described similar behavior by the priest that Kemp called "grooming."

The now-adult witnesses said McCormick socialized with boys, "hung out" with them at the rectory, invited them alone and in groups to his room, and took them out for burgers and movies. On three occasions, he took some of the boys on tours of Poland.

"Everyone thinks they are great guys until they know they are not," Kemp said.

McCormick, bald and bespectacled, dressed in a black suit, shirt, and white clerical collar, sometimes stared at Kemp, eyes wide. Mostly, he sat at the defense table, eyes closed, lips silently mouthing words.

Behind him were his family and an array of other supporters, including at least three nuns.

On the other side of the courtroom were the accuser and his parents and family. By the end of Kemp's closing, all were losing a fight to stifle sobs. 215-854-2985 @joeslobo








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