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. gotcha

    what do these guys all have in common? it's the case with 90% of pedos.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  2. BloodofNords

    Bigots are a waste of space. You all should

    February 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • BloodofNords

      *should look at yourselves in the mirror. Ugliness and hate are your features. Valhalla awaits me, and Hel awaits all of you

      February 21, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  3. great white pope

    And another thought. Why in the @*#$? Are M Jackson and W Houston worshiped like idols when they die?? Jacksons Dr should get the Nobel peace prize for euthenasia on that piece of %@@%4$!!! Oh wait maybe he was catholic and went to heaven....

    February 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  4. Phil

    Until a sitting pope is jailed, there will be no credible justice against this criminal pedophile enterprise called the catholic church.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  5. tony

    brian in detroit, you need jesus

    February 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  6. Brian, Detroit, MI

    Instead of even thinking of invading Iran or Syria or North Korea, maybe we should send the army into Vatican City? Christianity was invented by the Romans, who started the Catholic Church. There were several candidates up for the role of ,Messiah, Jesus just won by a simple roll of the dice. Learning was outlawed in Europe while the Catholics were in charge. They didn't want people to learn the truth, that god is a figment of the imagination. There is no god, all there is on this planet is what we can see. I feel sad for those that need, a higher power, to feel complete. The facts are the facts and there are no facts in religion.

    February 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Jon, IA

      Right on Brian! Science is the way of the future. People need to stop putting their minds and time into silly fairy tales of bearded white men creepily stalking you, and start devoting it to reality. Think of where the world would be if everyone was a scientist and actually did something for humankind, rather than live their lives aimlessly wandering in the shadows of an old dream.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  7. Sanctus Deum

    Obama is the Anti-Christ. He's persecuting the Church.

    February 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Alix

      Please be joking... Obama is "persecuting" what church – the one where small boys are r.ped?

      February 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  8. noleen

    When I travel through Northern Ireland All I seen is British Soldiers on every corner I'm Irish Free State give back what belongs to Ireland it's 6 counties

    February 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  9. Only sheep need a shepherd

    Burn them at the stake.

    February 21, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  10. brooklynaztec

    They should be burned with gasoline or shot in the head. I don't care who they are... All child molestors and rapist should be executed point blank range.

    February 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  11. kim

    And these are the people that are against planned parenthood and birth control insurance coverage. It seems they have much bigger problems to solve like stop trying to molest the alter boys.

    February 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Reality

      The real "Obamacare" i.e. getting re-elected on the backs of 39 million aborted womb babies by using the votes of the 78 million voters involved in said abortions,

      February 22, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  12. MOT

    I am in Philly too. Out of control.

    February 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  13. Reality

    Why did today's pope, prelates, preachers and rabbis, so focused on society's se-xual sins, lose sight of clerical se-xual sins?

    Obviously ordination in any religion is not assurance of good behavior !!!!!

    Neither is coronation!!! e.g. Henry VIII, King David.

    Neither is marriage as 50% of those men convicted of pedophilia are married.

    Neither is being elected president of the USA!! e.g. Billy "I did not have se-x with that girl" Clinton, John "Marilyn Monroe" Kennedy"

    Neither is possessing super athletic skill!!! e.g. Tiger "I am so sorry for getting caught" Woods.

    Neither is being an atheist or pagan since pedophilia is present in all walks of life.

    If someone is guilty of a crime in this litany of "neithers" they should or should have been penalized as the law dictates to include jail terms for pedophiliacs (priests, rabbis, evangelicals, boy scout leaders, married men/women), divorce for adultery (Clinton, Kennedy, Woods), jail terms for obstruction of justice (Clinton, Cardinal Law) and the death penalty or life in prison for murder ("Kings David and Henry VIII).

    February 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  14. JT

    How you Catholics can reconcile the r.pe of children is beyond comprehension. And as you continue to try and deflect the insti-tutionalized r.pe of your children by comparing your cult's transgressions to secular insti-tutions you are saying your cult is not divine after all. Gottcha.

    Do you only feel extra special when you are bragging about some nun serving soup down at the soup kitchen and that makes up for all the genocide, torture and r.pe? You people are the most vile pedophile supporters.

    February 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Daryl

      I couldn't have said it better. Excellent.

      February 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • markishere

      you were touched as a kid, weren't you?

      February 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  15. ED

    Perhaps rather than the war on women's reproductive rights and the right to privacy, the Catholic Church might instead and more properly go after the MEN who abused and continue to this day to abuse children within the church itself. Stop the coverups, stop protecting men. The patriarchy that is the church is disgusting.

    February 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  16. Blasphemy

    "Others do it too" is not a valid defense against the indictment of the Catholic Church.

    February 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  17. ralmuns

    Maybe the first commandment should be thou shall not molest "gods" children

    February 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  18. LouAz

    This trial is brought to you by MEN IN DRESSES !
    Don't act surprised.

    February 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Me

      What planet are you on?

      February 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • JPX

      Word! I laugh every tim eI see the Pop (i.e. a man wearing a dress and a silly hat). I can't believe that people in the 21st century continue to embrace such nonsense.

      February 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • JPX

      Word! I laugh every time I see the Pope (i.e. a man wearing a dress and a silly hat). I can't believe that people in the 21st century continue to embrace such nonsense.

      February 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  19. travis

    the only history it should make is 5 immediate executions.

    February 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  20. br

    This city is out of control. I literally just saw a brawl outside.

    February 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Daryl

      I agree!

      February 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • markishere

      I bet it was a fight started by a bunch of d-bag flyers fans

      February 21, 2012 at 7:17 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.