Northeast Times

Priest's retrial on sex charges set for March

Start­Frag­ment

A priest ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to rape a Bucks County teen in the 1990s will be re­tried in March in a Phil­adelphia court.

A jury could not reach a de­cision on the at­temp­ted rape and child en­dan­ger­ment charges against the Rev. James Bren­nan after a three-month tri­al this spring. Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Robert Cole­man on Aug. 29 set the re­tri­al date for March 6 in Courtroom 1001 in the Crim­in­al Justice Cen­ter.

Bren­nan went on tri­al March 26 along with Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn, an arch­dioces­an ad­min­is­trat­or charged with fa­cil­it­at­ing mo­lesta­tions by Bren­nan and by the Rev. Ed­ward Avery. The week be­fore the tri­al began, Avery pleaded guilty to mo­lest­ing a 10-year-old al­tar boy in the late 1990s at St. Jerome’s R.C. Church in the North­east.

Most of the pro­ceed­ings fo­cused not on Bren­nan, but on how the city’s Ro­man Cath­ol­ic arch­diocese and Lynn handled in­vest­ig­a­tions of priests ac­cused of mo­lest­ing minors.

Bren­nan’s at­tor­ney, Wil­li­am Bren­nan — who is not re­lated to the cler­gy­man — at­tacked a wit­ness who said the priest had mo­les­ted him as a li­ar, crim­in­al and op­por­tun­ist who was look­ing for a pay­off from the arch­diocese.

Jur­ors were hung on the charges against Bren­nan, but they con­victed Lynn of one child en­dan­ger­ment charge. Lynn was ac­quit­ted of child en­dan­ger­ment in re­gard to his hand­ling of Bren­nan’s case and also found not guilty of con­spir­acy. Lynn later was sen­tenced to three to six years im­pris­on­ment.

Bren­nan, Lynn and Avery were three of five de­fend­ants ar­res­ted in early 2011 after a grand jury re­leased its re­port on sexu­al ab­use of minors by Ro­man Cath­ol­ic clergy in the Phil­adelphia arch­diocese.

Also ar­res­ted were the Rev. Charles En­gel­hardt and former St. Jerome’s par­ish school teach­er Bern­ard Shero. Those two are sched­uled to go on tri­al this week. Avery was sen­tenced to two and a half to five years im­pris­on­ment. End­Frag­ment

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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