Four men, including three Catholic priests, were arrested in Philadelphia for allegedly raping and assaulting boys. Most notably, a former official in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was also arrested for his role in facilitating the abuse by failing to stop the priests — a charge that could be replicated in other cases involving the Church.
Father Edward Avery, 68, and Father Charles Engelhardt, 64, were charged with allegedly assaulting a 10-year-old boy at St. Jerome Parish from 1998 to 1999. Father James Brennan, another priest, is accused of assaulting a different 14-year-old boy in 1996. In addition, Bernard Shero, 48, a teacher in the school, is charged with allegedly assaulting the same boy involved in the Avery and Engelhardt charges in 2000.
The most interesting charge was that of Monsignor William Lynn, who served as the Secretary for Clergy for the under former Philadelphia Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua. He was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the alleged assaults. Lynn, 60, allegedly endangered the children by not preventing access to these victims by these men despite his knowledge of the allegations in his role as lead investigator of abuse allegations. This could be the most difficult to prove but the most significant precedent that would come from the case.
The accounts below state that “The grand jury believed that over 30 priests have remained in ministry in Pennsylvania despite solid, credible allegations of abuse.” Even with the past scandals, that is a shocking number.
The men are accused of raping alter boys and others boys in their care in cars, parks, their bedrooms, and other locations.
“By no means do we believe that these are the only two parishioners who were abused during this period,” Williams wrote in the grand jury report.
James Brennan, 47, allegedly used his access as a family friend to rape a 14-year-old. When confronted by the parents, he denied the allegations. The boy later committed suicide.