A Philadelphia judge today ordered lengthy prison terms for a priest and a former Catholic school teacher who were convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy.
Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler sentenced the Rev. Charles Engelhardt to a minimum of six years in prison. He was sentenced to 3 ½ years to seven years for endangering the welfare of a child and 2 ½ years to seven years for indecent assault on a child. Ceisler ordered the sentences to be served consecutively.
Former parochial school teacher Bernard Shero was sentenced to eight to 16 years for rape and given the same sentence for his conviction on indecent assault charges. The judge ordered the sentences to be served concurrently.
In addition, he was ordered to serve a sentence of 3 ½ years to seven years in prison for endangering the welfare of a child, to be served consecutive to the first sentences.
Both men were ordered to serve five years on probation after release from prison.
Before the sentencing in the packed courtroom, each of them pleaded with the judge for leniency. They fought back tears as they told of circumstances in their own lives.
On Jan. 30, both men were convicted of sexually abusing the boy at St. Jerome’s parish in Holme Circle in the late 1990s.
Engelhardt, an Oblate of St. Francis DeSales, 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 a grand jury report.
Shero had faced five counts, and jurors found him guilty of all. Engelhardt was found 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.
Engelhardt was convicted of endangering welfare of children, corruption of minors, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age and conspiracy. But today, the judge vacated the jury’s decision on the conspiracy charge, saying there was not enough evidence to convict him of that charge.
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.
Both men had been in jail since the jury announced its verdicts. ••