Philadelphia sex abuse case nears end

Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:16 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia jury in a child sex-assault trial of a priest and a former parochial school teacher will begin deliberations this week, the judge said.

After eight days of testimony in the trial of the Rev. Charles Englehardt, 66, and Bernard Shero, 49, Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler told the jury Wednesday to expect to hear final witnesses Thursday.

In testimony Wednesday, 19 of the 20 witnesses described Englehardt and Shero as peaceful, law-abiding citizens. The exception was Louise Hagner, archdiocesan victim-services coordinator, who spent the morning on the witness stand answering questions from defense and prosecution lawyers, philly.com reported.

The defense called Hagner in its continuing attack on the credibility of the alleged victim, known as "Billy Doe," now 24, who claims Englehardt and Shero raped and assaulted him repeatedly when he was a fifth- and sixth-grader at St. Jerome's School in Philadelphia.

Defense attorneys maintain the assaults never occurred, and the accuser is a troubled and drug-addicted man attempting to benefit from the church sex-abuse scandal.

Hagner's account of telephone and in-person interviews with Billy in 1999, which she recounted on the witness stand using notes, was at odds with what the accuser's own testimony indicated in the trial, the website reported.

Hagner's testimony Wednesday contained far more physical violence, with Billy alleging punching, choking and threats prior to the rapes, she said.

In his own testimony, Billy told the jury her remembered nothing because he told Hagner he was high on drugs.

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