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
Local

Chestnut Hill College student found dead Wednesday morning

A 22-year-0ld Chestnut Hill College student was found dead this morning inside a college dormitory, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 16: 'The Americans,'…

'The Americans' Philip and Elizabeth face "painful turns" in their missions. Maybe next week they'll have a nice easy mission with no moral ambiguity? Probably…

Movies

Review: 'Bears' is a cute Disney doc about…

Disney's latest nature doc, "Bears," doesn't completely shy away from the fact that its subjects would devour you (or eachother) if they had the chance.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Food

Wahlbergs expanding Wahlburgers fast food joint across North…

Wahlburgers will open new restaurants in Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia.

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…