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Priest with Lower Makefield ties charged with child abuse
A Catholic priest who briefly served at a Lower Makefield church has been charged with sexually assaulting a Philadelphia man starting when the man was an 11-year-old altar boy at a Northeast Philadelphia church.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced the charges against the Rev. Robert Brennan, 75, at a news conference Thursday. He is charged with rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and aggravated assault.
Brennan was arrested Wednesday in Maryland, where he has been living since he was suspended following a 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report. He remains an ordained priest, but was removed from active ministry in 2005, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Brennan is suspected of abusing more than 20 children, according to the grand jury report. But in 2005, prosecutors said the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution had expired.
He served at St. Ignatius Catholic Church for about six months in fall 1989, according to his archdiocese profile. Robert Brennan is not related to the Rev. James J. Brennan, who faces retrial after a jury last year could not reach a verdict in his case of alleged sexual abuse of children.
The allegations against Robert Brennan surfaced last year at the trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first Catholic church official convicted for his supervisory role in covering up the conduct of pedophile priests. Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in Philadelphia, is serving a three- to six-year sentence handed down in July 2012 for endangering a child. He has appealed his conviction in Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Prosecutors in the Lynn trial introduced details of Robert Brennan’s case to show that Lynn and others in the archdiocese had a longstanding practice of moving abusive priests to different parishes rather than notifying authorities.
Robert Brennan’s accuser is a 26-year-old Philadelphia man who alleges the priest sexually assaulted him between 1998 and 2001 when he was an altar boy at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Northeast Philadelphia, according to attorney Marci Hamilton, who is representing the man and two other alleged victims of Brennan’s in civil cases against the archdiocese.
Her two other clients were allegedly abused by Brennan, when he was assistant pastor at Resurrection, Hamilton said.
Hamilton said the 26-year-old man first came to her firm about a year ago, around the same time he went to the archdiocese and Philadelphia DA’s Office with his allegations. His civil suit against the archdiocese won’t be filed until after the criminal case is finished, Hamilton said.
“Some of our clients who were abused by Father Brennan were not able to see justice done in the criminal courts because of the statute of limitations; however, they are grateful to know that other brave survivors are willing to come forward,” she added.
DA Williams said the alleged assaults on the 26-year-old man occurred inside the church and rectory and off church property at a movie theater.
“Brennan … brought these boys into his fold and acted loving toward them,” Hamilton said. “The abuse wasn’t decades ago. There was abuse going on in this century. The constant theme by the archdiocese (is) that this is all in the past and this is just not true.”
Suspended Philadelphia priest arrested in Maryland for sexual assault of minor
Father Robert L. Brennan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia whose priestly faculties were suspended since 2005, has been arrested in Maryland on charges of sexually abusing a Northeast Philadelphia boy between 1998 and 2001.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams made the announcement at a press conference today, Sept. 26, in Philadelphia.
Father Brennan, 75, was arrested on charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault in Perryville, Md., where he was living in a private residence. He is being held in Maryland’s Cecil County where he faces an extradition hearing today.
He was included in the 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury report investigating incidents of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. The report cited a years-long pattern of reports of inappropriate behavior, including touching and other physical contact, between Father Brennan and boys with whom he came into contact during his assignments at parishes and schools in the archdiocese.
Boston priest to take reins at church media arm
A Boston priest has been appointed interim president and chief executive of iCatholic Media, the media arm of the Boston archdiocese, officials announced today.
Father Robert Reed was appointed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley and the board of trustees for iCatholic Media, the archdiocese said in a statement.
The nonprofit company operates a number of media outlets for the archdiocese. The company oversees Catholic TV, the radio program “The Good Catholic Life,” The Pilot newspaper, Pilot New Media, and Pilot Bulletins and Printing, the statement said.
Sister Marian Batho chairwoman of iCatholic Media, said Reed “brings a wealth of experience and energy to the position.”
In 2005, Reed was appointed to direct CatholicTV, which reaches 10 states, parts of Canada, and the Virgin Islands. Reed contributed to the rebranding and expansion of the network and to building its HD broadcast and production facility, the statement said.
“He understands the ever-changing dynamics of media and has a track record of building CatholicTV into a national television presence, utilizing multiple and integrated platforms,” said Batho. “We are blessed by his willingness to share his many gifts in service to the Church.”
Reed was ordained a priest in 1985. He most recently served as pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Whitman, and previously served in Malden, Norwood, Dorchester, and Haverhill, the statement said.
Reed directs the Radio Apostolate for the Archdiocese of Boston. The radio show is aired in partnership with WBZ-AM, and Reed has a small weekly segment. He also often assists at parishes in Newton and Plymouth, the statement said.
Reed studied for the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He has a master’s degree in television management from Boston University.
Batho said she and the trustees are working to define long-term goals for iCatholic Media. They want to evaluate what is working, what needs to be changed, and make sure they are up to date with ever-changing social media.
CA – Victims settle with three CA dioceses
Coming forward to expose abuse is never easy, especially when an predator is still working as a priest in one of the largest archdioceses in the United States. We applaud the three brave victims who came forward to report being abused by Fr. Donald Flickinger. Were it not for their action, Flickinger would still be living and working as a priest around children in San Francisco.
We are disappointed that church lawyers have fought to keep Flickinger’s personnel documents secret in the hopes that more victims will not come forward. We fear that the documents may outline Flickinger’s long career of abuse and cover-up by church officials. It is our hope that anyone who may have been hurt by Flickinger—or anyone else—comes forward and gets the healing they deserve. We also beg anyone who may have seen or suspected abuse, or has evidence of abuse by Flickinger in Monterey, San Jose or San Francisco reports to law enforcement. Children are only safe with predators are behind bars.
The victims were represented by attorney Tim Hale of Santa Barbara, firstname.lastname@example.org, (805) 963-2345 (cell)
Ex-Philly priest charged amid new abuse complaint
A former Philadelphia priest named in more than 20 abuse complaints during a long church career has been criminally charged for the first time after a new accuser came forward within the new time limit.
The Rev. Robert L. Brennan, 75, was arrested on rape charges in Perryville, Md., where he’s been living since he was suspended after being named in a 2005 grand jury report on sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He is now charged with sexually abusing an altar boy from 1998 to 2001 in northeast Philadelphia.
Earlier complaints against Brennan were long buried in a locked vault at the archdiocese, according to documents unearthed in a landmark church-abuse trial last year. But Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said the archdiocese _ after the conviction of a church official over his handling of complaints _ did the right thing when Brennan’s latest accuser contacted them in January.
“This shows the sea change, I believe, in the manner in which the archdiocese under (Archbishop Charles) Chaput is handling” complaints, Williams said.
Brennan was expected to be sent to Pennsylvania to be arraigned. It was not immediately clear if he has a lawyer.
He is charged with abusing the altar boy in the church sacristy, in his rectory bedroom, in a storage area and at a movie theater. Brennan had been transferred to Resurrection of Our Lord parish despite complaints dating back to at least 1990 _ from school administrators, a parent and other adults _ of improper wrestling, touching and other inappropriate behavior around boys.
“If the archdiocese would have been forthcoming from the start, he would have long been behind bars, and these kids would not have been hurt, certainly not this one,” said St. Paul, Minn., lawyer Jeff Anderson, who represents the accuser and other clergy-abuse victims, including two with civil suits pending against Brennan.
The watershed 2005 grand jury report devoted a lengthy section to Brennan, saying the archdiocese under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua reassigned him from parish to parish, even after sending him for psychiatric treatment or counseling four times. But prosecutors then deemed it too late to pursue criminal charges.
Laws adopted in many states since then give accusers more time to come forward. Anderson’s client said Brennan started abusing him when he was 11.
Williams, the district attorney, told reporters Thursday that he would have also charged imprisoned Monsignor William Lynn with child endangerment for allegedly covering up the earlier complaints against Brennan, but the statute for that charge had run out.
The 62-year-old Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy, is serving a three- to six-year term for endangering another child, while appealing his conviction. An appellate court heard defense arguments last week that Lynn was charged retroactively, under a law adopted after he left his post.
“I think Williams is all wet,” said Lynn’s lawyer, Thomas Bergstrom. “If we’re correct with the issue that’s before the Superior Court right now, Williams couldn’t have charged Lynn at all.”
Meanwhile, another suspended priest who went on trial with Lynn is scheduled for an October retrial. The jury had deadlocked on attempted rape and child endangerment charges against the Rev. James Brennan, 50, who is not related to Robert L. Brennan.
Norman Lamm Unable To Testify in Yeshiva Abuse Suit, Doctor Says
Psychologist Questions Reliability of Ex-Chancellor’s Testimony
Rabbi Norman Lamm, 85, was reportedly examined on September 16 by Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center neuropsychologist Elise Caccapolo. According to Lamm’s lawyer, she found that his testimony, if provided, would not be reliable.
“Dr. Caccappolo found that a deposition was unlikely to pose a risk or threat to Dr. Lamm’s health,” lawyer Joel Cohen wrote to Judge John Koetl, who is overseeing the case at the U.S. District Court, the Post reported.
“However, after administering a battery of tests conducted over a period of nearly five hours, Dr. Caccopolo determined that ‘the pattern of Dr. Lamm’s cognitive impairment impedes his ability to independently comprehend and adequately respond to questions posed to him, as well to reliably retrieve and report past information.”
On September 9, Koeltl ordered a medical evaluation of Lamm, in response to claims by Cohen during a pre-trial hearing that Lamm is unfit to be deposed because he is suffering from dementia.
At the time, Koeltl said he didn’t want a testimony to “bring on untoward medical consequences,” and asked for an independent evaluation of Lamm’s mental state.
Lamm retired on July 1 — just before the suit was filed — and apologized for alerting authorities to reports of sexual abuse against students of Y.U.’s high school for boys during the 1970s and ‘80s.
“At the time that inappropriate actions by individuals at Yeshiva were brought to my attention, I acted in a way that I thought was correct, but which now seems ill conceived,” Lamm wrote in a letter published the same day. “I understand better today than I did then that sometimes, when you think you are doing good, your actions do not measure up. You think you are helping, but you are not. You submit to momentary compassion in according individuals the benefit of the doubt by not fully recognizing what is before you, and in the process you lose the Promised Land.”
If Lamm is unable to testify it could deprive the former students of a key witness, insiders said.
Priest Abuse Watchdog Group Critical of Former Pope’s Claim That He Did Not Hide Abuse
A Missouri-based group devoted to helping victims of clerical sexual abuse is critical of former Pope Benedict XVI’s recent claim that he did not hide sexual abuse incidents.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) of St. Louis took issue with Benedict XVI’s recently published letter denying involvement in a cover-up.
David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, told The Christian Post that the Pope Emeritus’ recent words were “hurtful and deceitful.”
“They rub salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of tens of thousands of clergy sex abuse victims and millions of betrayed Catholics,” said Clohessy. “And we’re deeply saddened that not a single one of the world’s tens of thousands of bishops and priests has the courage to publicly dispute Benedict’s self-serving, misleading and callous comments.”
Clohessy’s remarks came in regards to a lengthy letter by the Pope Emeritus published by the Italian paper La Repubblica. In the 11-page letter, Benedict XVI responded to a variety of questions posed by Italian author and outspoken atheist Piergiorgio Odifreddi, a mathematics professor at the University of Turin.
“As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things,” wrote Benedict XVI. “That the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time, we must do everything to prevent it from repeating.”
The extent to which Benedict XVI’s efforts to fight priest abuse were effective remains a matter of controversy among observers.
During his time the Pope Emeritus did enact certain measures that made the process easier to defrock priests who had committed abuse, writes Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press.
“Eventually, a year after the abuse scandal exploded in the U.S., Ratzinger pushed through administrative changes in 2003 and 2004 that enabled his office to permanently remove abusers without going through a church trial,” wrote Winfield. “But that decision came decades after his office began receiving a steady stream of documentation about the scale of abuse in the U.S. – far too late, according to victims.”
Odifreddi was the same atheist writer that the current Pope Francis responded to weeks earlier regarding atheism and forgiveness.
Priest Charged With Sexual Assault Of 11-Year-Old Altar Boy
“A serial predator is now behind bars thanks to the brave actions of this young man.”
Those words from District Attorney Seth Williams as he announced the arrest of 75-year-old Rev. Robert L. Brennan on charges that he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old altar boy here at the Resurrection of Our Lord Parish from 1998 to 2001.
“The assaults took place in the sacristy of the church, in Reverend Brennan’s bedroom in the rectory. In a storage area on parish property and at a movie theater.
Brennan was arrested at a private residence in Maryland Wednesday night. The DA says the now 26-year-old victim bravely came forward last January and told officials at the Archdiocese.
“The Archdiocese is to be commended for immediately reporting this case to our office,” Williams told reporters.
Williams went on to say that convicted Monsignor William Lynn continued to transfer Father Brennan from church to church to church despite numerous warnings about Brennan. Even reports at Resurrection of Our Lord parish..
“William Lynn never reported to law enforcement any, any of the many allegations he heard about Brennan,” Williams said.
“It’s a nice parish, it’s a shame,” said one parishioner as others reacted strongly to the new allegations.
“It’s like old news. It’s nasty, it’s disgusting,” said Kathy Giacomelli, who’s been a parishioner here for 40 years.
“I understand they’re sick, but I think people like that should not be allowed back into the population,” said another local resident.
The DA says he would have charged Monsignor Lynn with endangering the welfare of a child in this case, but the case missed the statute requirements by just three months. Father Brennan was extradited back here to Philadelphia.
The Archdiocese says Brennan has not served in active ministry since his name surfaced in an earlier Grand Jury report in 2005.
Tom Bergstrom, the lawyer for Monsignor Lynn, called William’s comments about his client today “offensive” and pointed out that his client has appealed his conviction to a higher court. Lynn is now serving three to six years in prison.
A serial predator is now behind bars thanks to the brave actions of this young man. Those words are from District Attorney Seth Williams as he announced the arrest of 75-year-old Rev. Robert l. Brennan.
Brennan is accused of sexually assaulted an 11-year-old altar boy here at the Resurrection of Our Lord Parish from 1998 to 2001.
The assaults allegedly took place in the sacristy of the church in Reverend Brennan’s bedroom in the rector inside a storage area on parish property and at a movie theater.
Brennan was arrested at a private residence in Maryland Wednesday night. The DA said the now 26-year old victim bravely came forward last January and told officials at the Arch Diocese.
Williams went on to say that convicted monsignor William Lynn continued to transfer father Brennan from church to church despite numerous warning even reports at resurrection of our lord parish.
Parishioners reacted strongly to the new allegations.
Now the DA says he would have charged Monsignor Lynn with endangering the welfare of a child in this case, but the case missed the statute requirements by just three months.
Diocese sued over alleged abuse by priest
A former altar boy at Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Truro is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax for alleged sexual abuse by a priest.
Court papers filed Wednesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court allege the claimant was fondled by the priest when he was between the ages of 14 and 15, and that the archdiocese is vicariously liable for the priest’s actions.
The papers claim the assaults and resulting injuries were caused by “the negligence, infliction of mental distress, breach of trust, breach of non-delegable duty and breach of fiduciary duty of the archdiocese,” and of its employees.
The negligence, the court papers allege, includes the archdiocese’s failure to take steps to implement programs or procedures to supervise the priest, to take steps to counsel or prevent him from assaulting the claimant and to use reasonable care in the ordination, training, supervision and employment of the priest.
The former altar boy is claiming “serious, lasting and permanent injuries” including anxiety, nightmares, loss of self-esteem, lack of trust in others, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, impaired interpersonal relationships and alcohol abuse. No defence has been filed and the allegations have not been proven in court.