Philly priest ignored sex rumors, prosecutors say

May 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, May 9 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in a Philadelphia church sex abuse trial offered evidence seeking to prove a church official ignored signs of an allegedly abusive priest.

Weeks before his alleged attempt to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996, the Rev. James J. Brennan, then on a leave of absence, called the clergy office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to complain to Msgr. William J. Lynn that other priests had been gossiping that the reason for the leave involved Brennan's sharing of his apartment with a former student of his. Lynn responded in a confidential memo that "I told him not to be concerned with rumors, that we only take facts as we find them," it was revealed in Common Pleas Court Tuesday.

Prosecutors showed jurors the memo as they sought to prove Lynn ignored signs of potential sexual abuse. Nowhere in the file, Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Coehlo pointed out, was evidence Lynn investigated the rumor or sought to find the student.

The testimony marked the first time prosecutors introduced evidence linking the two priests, a sign, the Philadelphia Inquirer said Wednesday, the seven-week trial may be nearing an end.

Lynn is accused of endangering children by not removing priests he knew or suspected would abuse minors, and Brennan is charged with assaulting the boy.

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