A jury in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court has returned multiple guilty verdicts against a Roman Catholic priest and a former school teacher in connection with the abuse of an altar boy at St. Jerome’s parish in the late 1990s.
The jury found former teacher Bernard Shero guilty on all counts. The panel found the Rev. Charles Engelhardt guilty on all counts except one. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a child.
Both men were placed in protective custody when they were taken away by sheriff’s deputies. Judge Ellen Ceisler set sentencing for April 18.
Engelhardt was accused of assaulting the 10-year-old boy after he caught him sipping leftover sacramental wine after a Mass at St. Jerome’s Church. Prosecutors said Shero, a teacher at the parish school, offered the boy a ride home in his car, and instead stopped at Pennypack Park and raped him in a parking lot. He then told the boy to walk home, according to the grand jury report on the case.
Engelhardt, an Oblate of St. Francis DeSales, was convicted of endangering welfare of children, corruption of minors, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age and conspiracy.
Shero was convicted of rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, endangering welfare of children, corruption of minors, and indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented several witnesses over the course of nine days of trial. The jury deliberated over four days.
The accuser, a man now 24 who lives in Florida, testified about the attacks at the trial.
Shero’s lawyer, Burton Rose, said he will appeal.
Asked during a news conference outside the courthouse what kind of penalties Engelhardt and Shero are facing, District Attorney Seth Williams said he didn’t think they could get enough prison time for what they did.