Philadelphia grand jury indicts five

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has released a new report Feb. 10 by a grand jury investigating abuse cases and bringing criminal indictments for the first time.

Charged with rape, assault and other felonies related to minors, as recommended by the grand jury, are former archdiocesan priest Edward V. Avery, 68, of Haverford; Father Charles Engelhardt, 64, of Wyndmoor and an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales; an archdiocesan priest, Father James J. Brennan, 47, of Linfield; and former lay teacher, Bernard Shero, 48, of Bristol. All four were arrested Feb. 10, Catholic San Francisco reports.

Msgr. William J. Lynn, 60, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown, was charged on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. The charges stem, according to the report, from Msgr. Lynn’s conduct as archdiocesan secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. In that role, he was responsible for recommending the assignment of priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

He is believed to be the first high-ranking diocesan official indicted under a criminal statute in the U.S. for charges related to the sexual abuse scandal that came to light in 2002.

At a Feb. 10 news conference, Williams said that as a practicing Catholic, presenting the grand jury’s findings caused him discomfort.

“This isn’t a witch hunt into the Catholic Church,” said Williams, a member of St. Cyprian Parish in West Philadelphia. “The criminal acts that occurred here are not representative of my religion. They are the bad acts of individual men.

“I recognize all the good that the Roman Catholic Church has done and continues to do in the world,” he added. “But I am sworn to uphold the law, and I will do what is necessary to protect children.”

SOURCE

Grand jury indicts five after Philadelphia sex abuse investigation (Catholic San Francisco)

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DA Seth Williams (Friends of Seth Williams)