Catholic priest, teacher convicted of nearly all charges in archdiocese sex abuse case

Bernard Shero.

A jury on Wednesday convicted Catholic priest Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former parochial school teacher Bernard Shero of nearly all charges involving the repeated sexual abuse of a 10-year-old altar boy at St. Jerome Parish in Northeast Philadelphia between 1998 and 2000.

“This is an important day for all institutional abuse victims,” District Attorney Seth Williams said. “It is not an easy thing to overcome decades of cover-up and a culture of silence. This verdict will help put an end to the blind eye and the deaf ear with which so many victims of abuse have been received.”

The decision came after nearly three full days of deliberations. Central to the trial was the credibility of the victim – now 24 – who has struggled with heroin addiction since he was a teen and at times gave varying accounts of the abuse details.

“Engelhardt and Shero tried to avoid justice by claiming the victim was not credible,” said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “We are glad their hurtful and malicious legal tactic did not work.”

Defense lawyers pointed to a pending civil suit the young man brought against the archdiocese as a possible motive for what they said were outrageous allegations, but prosecutors praised his courage.

“Not only did he have the strength to report his abuse, he had the tenacity to look his abusers in the eye and testify in front of complete strangers about the horrific details of his attacks,” Williams said. “I hope this verdict will help him to continue with the long journey of healing that comes after such trauma.”

Engelhardt and Shero were both taken into custody immediately following the verdict and will be sentenced on March 18. Engelhardt faces a maximum sentence of 37 years in jail, while Shero could receive up to 57 years.

Case recap

The case faced a hurdle when Edward Avery, another former St. Jerome Parish priest who last year pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the same victim, testified earlier this month that he never abused the child and only took the plea because he feared a trial would result in a longer sentence.

In what legal observers called a landmark conviction, Monsignor William Lynn was last year found guilty of child endangerment for exposing the victim to Avery, a known pedophile. The monsignor allowed Avery’s transfer to Saint Jerome even though the priest had already admitted to abusing a boy in the past.

Avery began abusing the Saint Jerome Parish altar boy after fellow priest Engelhardt described to him a sexual encounter he’d had with the victim, according to testimony.

The charges

– Shero was convicted of rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and indecent sexual assault of a person less than 13 years of age.

– Engelhardt was convicted of indecent assault of a child under 13, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of children, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.

– The jury deadlocked on one involuntary deviate sexual intercourse count brought against Engelhardt.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…