Jury selection to begin in Philadelphia archdiocese scandal case
Left to right, from top: Edward Avery, James Brennan, Charles Engelhardt, William Lynn and Bernard Shero have been charged in Philadelphia in connection with sex abuse against minors.
February 21st, 2012
01:03 AM ET

Jury selection to begin in Philadelphia archdiocese scandal case

By The CNN Wire Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) - Jury selection begins Tuesday in the Philadelphia Catholic Archdiocese trial, a case experts have called one of the most sweeping sex abuse scandals in America.

The Philadelphia scandal could open a historic chapter in the abuse crisis, church watchers say, changing the way the American criminal justice system deals with such alleged cases.

A grand jury last year charged four priests and a parochial school teacher with raping and assaulting boys in their care.

The charges were unusual because they went beyond accusations against priests. A church higher-up was charged with covering up the abuse, which church experts say had never happened in the United States before.

All five pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse and conspiracy charges in April.

Edward Avery and Charles Engelhardt were charged with assaulting a 10-year-old boy at St. Jerome Parish in Philadelphia from 1998 to 1999.

Bernard Shero, a teacher at the school, is charged with assaulting the same boy there in 2000. Avery was defrocked in 2006.

James Brennan, another priest, is accused of assaulting a different boy, a 14-year-old, in 1996.

Monsignor William Lynn was also charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the alleged assaults.

From 1992 until 2004, Lynn was responsible for investigating reports that priests had sexually abused children.

The grand jury found that Lynn endangered children by knowingly allowing dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children.

In addition to the charges, the grand jury alleged that as many as 37 priests remained in ministry in Pennsylvania despite solid, credible allegations of abuse.

Testimony is expected to begin in the case in March.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse • United States

soundoff (400 Responses)
  1. Juliana

    Posted on Keep up the wonderful work , I read few leitcars on this website and I believe that your website is really interesting and has got bands of great info .

    March 3, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  2. theTruth

    This does not belong in the Belief section, CNN. It belongs in the Criminal section.

    February 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Ngoc

      Thanks for including my atricles, Cathy! It's always fun to see what everyone else has to talk about too. SavvySelfPub recently posted..The Serialized Novella and You (AKA Working That 99 Cent Price Point)

      July 29, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  3. Mike

    At least now the child molesters are being held accountable no matter what crimes the criminal bishops and pope try to cover up.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  4. Eric

    OR, these are gold-digging lawsuit happy demons that make accusations and don't need ANY evidence whatsoever to win millions of dollars. You people do realize that only the testimony of the kid (15 years later mind you) is required to put these guys in prision and win millions from the church. I mean, do you really think thousands of kids were abused and majically they all started coming out of the woodwork 15 years later and at the same time? Sounds like get-rich-quick sickos to me. I highy doubt even 5% of the cases against all these priests are true. It's very sad, can you imagine the amount of innocent people in prision because of this?

    February 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • chief

      your post is the most disgusting one ive read... its people like you that are accomplices to the crime via denial.... go to bishop accountability dot org and look at the convicted priest list and read what they did..... most likely you will find your picture there based on your comments

      February 23, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • chief

      also ,.... its list about 10,000 priests that have been wrongly accused and convicted... and its only the USA

      February 23, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • victim A

      The worst part is the lost lives of children. Many children mentally ill and others committed suicide. Life expectancy of a victims is 20 years less. Sad there are victims haters to pritect this church.

      According to the FBI, less than 10% will ever come forward. Math clearly states that in the end the church gets away cheap.

      February 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  5. Really?

    Three different men abused the same child? Good grief. It seems as if these sickos plan and plot to abuse the weakest children out of the bunch, and pass them around. May you all rot in h-e-l-l

    February 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.