Northeast Times

Former Resurrection priest arrested on sexual assault charges

The Rev. Robert L. Bren­nan sexu­ally as­saul­ted an al­tar boy from 1998 to 2001 while he was at Re­sur­rec­tion of Our Lord par­ish, loc­ated at Castor and Shelmire av­en­ues in Rhawn­hurst, Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams said today dur­ing a late-morn­ing news con­fer­ence.

The former as­sist­ant pas­tor of a North­east Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic par­ish has been ar­res­ted and charged with re­peatedly mo­lest­ing an al­tar boy over a three-year peri­od.

The Rev. Robert L. Bren­nan sexu­ally as­saul­ted the boy from 1998 to 2001 while he was at Re­sur­rec­tion of Our Lord par­ish, loc­ated at Castor and Shelmire av­en­ues in Rhawn­hurst, Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams said today dur­ing a late-morn­ing news con­fer­ence.

The boy was 11 and in the par­ish school’s sixth grade when the mo­lesta­tions star­ted, the DA said, and Bren­nan was 60.

The priest, who was prom­in­ently men­tioned in the 2005 Phil­adelphia Grand Jury re­port on sexu­al ab­use by Cath­ol­ic clergy, was ar­res­ted yes­ter­day in Perry­ville, Md., where he lives in a private res­id­ence.

Bren­nan’s min­istry has been re­stric­ted since 2005, Wil­li­ams said. He has been charged with rape, in­vol­un­tary de­vi­ate sexu­al in­ter­course and ag­grav­ated in­de­cent as­sault, the DA said.

Wil­li­ams said a seri­al of­fend­er is now be­hind bars.

The vic­tim, now 26 and no longer a Phil­adelphia res­id­ent, re­por­ted his ab­use to the arch­diocese in Janu­ary, Wil­li­ams said. The arch­diocese im­me­di­ately — that day — turned over the in­form­a­tion to the DA’s of­fice.

Wil­li­ams praised the arch­diocese for act­ing so quickly and said the co­oper­a­tion his of­fice got from the Phil­adelphia church rep­res­en­ted a “sea change” in how such mat­ters had been handled.

Wil­li­ams also praised the vic­tim for com­ing for­ward.

“A seri­al ab­user is now be­hind bars be­cause of the brave ac­tions of this young man,” Wil­li­ams said.

Bren­nan was ex­pec­ted to have an ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing today in Cecil County, Md., Wil­li­ams said.

The ab­use oc­curred in the North­east church’s sac­risty, Bren­nan’s rect­ory bed­room, a stor­age area on par­ish prop­erty and in a movie theat­er, the DA said.

In a state­ment re­leased today, the arch­diocese said Bren­nan was re­moved from act­ive min­istry in Septem­ber 2005 after the grand jury re­port was is­sued.

“He has not been per­mit­ted to func­tion as a priest any­where since that time. A ca­non­ic­al pro­cess aimed at his la­iciz­a­tion is in pro­gress with the Holy See,” the arch­diocese stated.

The arch­diocese said the al­leged “wrong­ful con­duct” oc­curred more than a dozen years be­fore Bren­nan was re­moved from min­istry.

The church was aware of Bren­nan and claims about his con­duct long be­fore that, a law­yer for two men who also say Bren­nan mo­les­ted them said yes­ter­day.

“The arch­diocese has known about this creep since 1988,” said Daniel F. Mo­n­ahan, a Mal­vern at­tor­ney.

Ac­cord­ing to a chro­no­logy of Bren­nan’s ca­reer that Mo­n­ahan re­leased yes­ter­day, the priest has been ac­cused of “in­ap­pro­pri­ate or sus­pi­cious be­ha­vi­or” with more than 20 boys.  

Mo­n­ahan and at­tor­ney Marci Hamilton have sev­er­al civil suits filed by cler­ic­al ab­use vic­tims pending against the arch­diocese.

“The Phil­adelphia Grand Jury Re­ports [in 2005 and 2011) and the tri­al of Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn re­vealed that the arch­diocese was aware of Bren­nan’s pred­at­ory be­ha­vi­or as early as 1988,” Hamilton stated in an email to the North­east Times today, “and that Monsignor Lynn knew this full well dur­ing his ten­ure and did noth­ing to pro­tect chil­dren.”

Lynn, who in­vest­ig­ated al­leg­a­tions against priests while the sec­ret­ary for the clergy un­der Car­din­al An­thony Bevilac­qua, was con­victed of one count of child en­dan­ger­ment in 2012 for not keep­ing a priest who was a child mo­lester away from chil­dren. His case cur­rently is un­der ap­peal.

Wil­li­ams said Lynn knew of Bren­nan, but can not be charged again with en­dan­ger­ing chil­dren be­cause the stat­ute of lim­it­a­tions on that of­fense has run out.

The DA en­cour­aged any vic­tims of sexu­al ab­use to con­tact his of­fice. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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