Philadelphia priest abuse trial to begin

Sept. 3, 2012 at 3:32 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The prosecution of Catholic clergy accused of child sex abuse resumes in Philadelphia this week with the trial of a former priest and a former teacher.

The trial, set to begin Tuesday, concerns alleged actions taken against a 10-year-old altar boy and fifth-grader at St. Jerome's Parish, referred to by prosecutors with the pseudonym "Billy Doe," who was allegedly serially molested and raped by two priests and a teacher, who prosecutors claim passed him from one abuser to the next, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

The trial of former priest Charles Engelhardt, 65, and former parochial school teacher Bernard Shero, 49, in Philadelphia's Common Pleas Court includes a continuing gag order prohibiting lawyers or witnesses from talking to reporters, and documents pertaining to a pre-trial hearing sealed by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.

Sarmina presided over the trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, who was convicted June 22 on one count of child endangerment involving an assault on Billy Doe by the Rev. Edward V. Avery during the 1998-99 school year, court documents note.

Since the alleged incidents, Billy Doe, now 23, was ejected from two high schools, attempted suicide and developed an addiction to heroin and pills, the newspaper said, adding that he appeared at the previous trial and is expected to appear at the trial this week.

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