Archdiocesan priest charged with rape of 6th grader in late ’90s

Robert L. Brennan, 75, is charged with raping a boy for three years while he served as assistant pastor at Resurrection of Our Lord in Northeast Philadelphia. Credit: Philadelphia District Attorney's office.
Rev. Robert L. Brennan, 75, is charged with raping a boy for three years while he served as assistant pastor at Resurrection of Our Lord in Northeast Philadelphia. Credit: Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.

An Archdiocesan priest was charged today with rape after he allegedly molested an altar boy for three years, starting when the child was in sixth grade, at Resurrection of Our Lord in Northeast Philadelphia.

Rev. Robert L. Brennan, 75, who served as the parish’s assistant pastor in the late ’90s and early 2000s, was arrested Wednesday after the now 26-year-old victim came forward, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced today.

“A serial abuser is now behind bars thanks to the brave actions of this young man,” Williams said.

Brennan was arrested in his new home in Maryland on Wednesday night by Perryville police. He is expected to go before a judge sometime today for an extradition hearing.

The boy was reportedly sexually abused between the ages of 11 and 14. The victim claims he was forced to engage in sexual intercourse and perform oral sex on the priest. He was allegedly abused inside the church’s sacristy, in the priest’s bedroom, in a storage area on parish property and in a movie theater, according to the DA’s office.

Williams said the investigation began in January, when the victim reported the abuse to the Archdiocese. He added that the Archdiocese immediately reported the incident to the district attorney’s office once the victim presented his allegations.

The victim reported the abuse six months after a jury convicted Msgr. William Lynn of child endangerment for failing to supervise predatory priests.

Brennan is currently a priest with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and his duties were restricted shortly after a 2005 Philadelphia grand jury documented numerous allegations of sexual misconduct with other children.

Williams said reports of Brennan’s misconduct dates back to at least 1990 and 1991 while he served as principal both of St. Pius X High School and of the parish school at St. Mary’s in Schwenksville. Parent’s allegedly raised concerns about Brennan’s  behavior in both schools.

Lynn was allegedly aware of concerns about Brennan wrestling with and inappropriately touching students at Resurrection two years before the victim claims he was abused.

Brennan faces charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault.

“It hope this arrest continues to send the message to scull assault victims that we hear you,” Williams said, “And we will bring the person to justice.”

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