Pennsylvania courts made history a few months ago when an official of the Philadelphia archdiocese was convicted for his involvement in covering up abuses of children committed by other clergy in his administration. About six months after the sentencing, the Philedelphia Inquirer reports, the trial of a couple accused abusers in R.C. Church service is underway (locally-cached version):
It’s been almost two years since a Philadelphia grand jury probe of Catholic clergy sex abuse of children resulted in charges against four priests and a teacher.
On Monday — after last year’s landmark, three-month trial ended in the first criminal conviction of a church administrator for covering up the crimes of deviate priests — the last two defendants, the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former parochial schoolteacher Bernard Shero, are to go to trial.
Prosecutors, defense lawyers, and Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler will begin winnowing a large group of candidates down to a jury of 12 plus several alternates.
The article lays out the case against the two priests:
The case against Engelhardt and Shero involves one of the first trial’s most salacious episodes: the serial sexual assault of a 10-year-old altar boy from Northeast Philadelphia in the late 1990s.
Identified in the grand jury report as “Billy Doe,” the boy was a fifth-grader at St. Jerome’s parish.
According to the grand jury, Billy was first abused by Engelhardt after serving at an early-morning weekday Mass at St. Jerome’s.
Over the next couple of weeks, Engelhardt abused “Billy” a couple more times. “Billy” was then abused some months later by another priest, the Rev. Edward Avery, who was charged with the others but pled guilty to the rape. And the boy was again assaulted, later still, by his then-teacher Shero.
It’s clear from the case of “Billy Doe” that abusers within the Philadelphia archdiocese — including non-diocesan religious clergy like Engelhardt and lay teachers like Shero — must have been passing information around amongst themselves over who the more desirable or pliant victims were. It’s not a coincidence that the same boy was assaulted multiple times by multiple abusers. Words like “sickening,” “putrid,” “vile” and “disgusting” leap to mind, but they hardly do the situation justice.
Again, I have to wonder when American Catholics intend to get up off their cowardly little asses and actually do something about the organization to which they belong. How much more of this do you need to hear, before you’ll accept there’s a problem lurking somewhere in your Church? A problem that needs to be solved, but won’t be, until you take action to solve it? What are you waiting for? How many more lives need to be destroyed before you’ll take responsibility for your own Church?
Photo credit: Bruce Anderson, via Wikimedia Commons.abuse, archdiocese of philadelphia, bernard shero, billy doe, catholic church, catholic clerical abuse scandal, charles engelhardt, child abuse, christian, Christianity, christians, philadelphia, philadelphia PA, priestly pedophilia, rev charles engelhardt, roman catholic, roman catholic abuse scandal, roman catholic child abuse scandal, roman catholic church, scandal