A Last Oath: ‘Please Understand That I Am An Innocent Man, Who Was Wrongly Convicted’

A Last Oath: ‘Please Understand That I Am An Innocent Man, Who Was Wrongly Convicted’

The night before falsely accused priest Rev. Charles Engelhardt passed away on November 15, 2014, Pennsylvania prison officials denied the dying cleric critical medical care, and Engelhardt issued a last declaration of his innocence, according to a recent court filing by Engelhardt’s cellmate and exclusively reported by journalist Ralph Cipriano.

According to Cipriano, Engelhardt told cellmate Paul H. Eline before he died: “Paul, I do not feel well. Please understand that I am an innocent man, who was wrongly convicted.”

No end in sight to an outrage

Ralph Cipriano

This sad episode adds yet another chapter to the gross injustice against three men – Engelhardt, former teacherBernard Shero, and ex-priest Edward Avery – who were wrongly convicted for crimes they never committed.

The accuser at the center of this episode, Dan Gallagher (who has since moved from Philly to sunny Florida), has bizarrely and wildly claimed that during the 1998-1999 school year, when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in Philadelphia, he was viciously raped and abused – sometimes for hours on end – by the three men (Engelhardt, Shero, and Avery), all of whom barely even knew each other.

And since the shocking conviction of Engelhardt and Shero in January of 2013, Cipriano has uncovered a mind-blowing mountain of evidence indicating that Gallagher most certainly falsely accused the trio of Engelhardt, Shero, and Avery:

  • Even members of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office itself did not believe Gallagher’s wild claims and questioned whether they should even put Engelhardt and Shero on trial.
  • Triple-accuser Gallagher has been arrested at least six times – once for possession of 56 bags of heroin – and has been in-and-out of some 23 drug re-habs.
    [Check out a court summary of Gallagher’s extensive arrest record]
  • Gallagher even explicitly told drug counselors that he had “no history of physical or sexual abuse.”
  • On three separate occasions, Gallagher told drug counselors that his older brother had been arrested for molestation. In truth, Gallagher’s older brother, James Gallagher, is a recently licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and has never been arrested at all.
  • Gallagher was refuted when he claimed that he was abused while in fifth grade and part of the bell choir maintenance crew, as only eighth graders were part of such a group;
  • An alternate juror even came forward after the trial with the dramatic charge that the guilty verdicts against Engelhardt and Shero were “insane,” “incredible,” and “a tragic miscarriage of justice.”
  • Fr. Engelhardt easily passed a polygraph test denying that he abused Danny or anyone, and the test administrator was a guy often hired by the Philly D.A.’s Office itself.
  • Ex-priest Avery not only passed a polygraph test indicating that he had never abused Gallagher, but he also told authorities he never even met him before. In addition, records later revealed that Gallagher never even served as an altar boy at Mass with Avery, as Gallagher had claimed.
  • Fr. Engelhardt previously waved his fifth amendment rights and voluntarily appeared before the Philadelphia grand jury, at which he asserted his innocence and testified, “I have no knowledge of who the person is. If he’s sitting in this room today, I can’t pick him out … I found it to be a very humbling thing to be called on the phone … when you know, there was no truth or that was something unrealistic that was happening to you.”
  • And as we have relayed before, Gallagher has told separate tales of perverted abuse by the trio of men that not only defy any reasonable belief, but his tales have also varied wildlyover time.

And most recently in September, defense attorneys for Engelhardt and Shero submitted a stunning court filing that charged that Philadelphia prosecutors withheld evidence that would have exonerated the two men.

For nearly four years, we have been calling upon the mainstream media to examine this egregious miscarriage of justice in Philadelphia. Will 2015 be the year that it finally happens?

We won’t hold our breath.



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