Jury convicts priest and former teacher in sex-abuse case

The Rev. Charles En­gel­hardt and former pa­ro­chi­al school teach­er Bern­ard Shero were con­victed in the ab­use of the same al­tar boy at St. Jerome's par­ish in North­east Philly in the late 1990s.

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.

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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