Three priests, a Monsignor and a Catholic school teacher are all facing criminal charges after a Philadelphia grand jury found a pattern of child sexual abuse.
Edward Avery, Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero, in addition to parochial school teacher James Brennan are facing rape, indecent sexual assault and other charges in connection with the sexual abuse of boys between 1996 and 2000.
District Attorney Seth Williams says the information given to the grand jury came from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s investigation into abuse by priests. Williams spoke of one allegation made by the grand jury after hearing testimony.
“What makes this even more disgusting for me…is that it appears that this priest at the time then shared his accomplishment…with another priest that was also assigned at the parish at that same time. And within weeks he did the same exact same thing to this poor young boy who was 10 years of age,” said Williams.
Monsignor William Lynn, Secretary for Clergy of the Archdiocese under former Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua was also charged with failing to protect children from abuse. The investigation also found about 30 active priests with allegations of sexual abuse in the past. Bishop Daniel Thomas of the Archdiocese says that is not the case.
“There are no Archdiocesan priests currently in ministry who have an established or admitted allegation of sexual abuse of a minor,” Thomas said.
Cardinal Justin Rigali says the diocese has not been able to review the charges and so won’t comment specifically. Cardinal Rigali is pledging full cooperation with the investigation. He also expressed sympathy to victims of sexual abuse.
Barbara Dorris is a national director with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Dorris says she’s most heartened by the felony charges against Monsignor William Lynn
“We hope this is the first of many times that church officials who engage in this deceptive maneuvers of hiding these that they’re held accountable because unless wrongdoers are held accountable and punished they will continue this behavior,” said Dorris.
For a response from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on the charges released, watch the video below.