Arrest of Four Clergy Members and A Teacher

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Philadelphia, February 10, 2011:  The District Attorney’s Office today charged four people with sexually assaulting two young boys over the course of several years.   Three priests — 68 year old Edward Avery, 64 year old Charles Engelhardt, and 47 year old James Brennan — and a parochial school teacher, 48 year old Bernard Shero, were all charged with rape, indecent sexual assault and other criminal charges.   

60 year old Monsignor William Lynn, the Secretary for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, has been charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the assaults.

Avery and Engelhardt are charged with assaulting a 10 year old boy at St. Jerome Parish from 1998 to 1999.  Bernard Shero is charged with assaulting the same boy there in 2000.  James Brennan is accused of assaulting a different boy, a 14 year old, in 1996.

From 1992 until 2004, Msgr. Lynn was responsible for investigating reports that priests had sexually abused children.  He was in charge of recommending appropriate action to ensure that priests could not reoffend against other children.   The Grand Jury found that Msgr. Lynn endangered children, including the victims in these most recent cases, by knowingly allowing dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children.

Avery, Engelhardt, Shero and Brennan are all facing a maximum of 67 years in prison if convicted of all charges.  Msgr. Lynn is facing a maximum of 14 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Along with recommending criminal charges, the Grand Jury also recommended that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia overhaul its procedures for assisting victims and for removing priests accused of molesting minors.

The District Attorney’s Office has set up a special phone line and email account to help victims who have been sexually abused by a member of the clergy.  If you are a victim you are urged to call 215-686-8783 or email  da.victimservices@phila.gov.

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