Described by a Philadelphia grand jury in 2005 as one of the most notorious serial abusers in Philadelphia, Catholic priest Rev. James J. Brzyski was never charged. Now, a man who says he was one of his victims is speaking out.
John-Michael Delaney, 46, of Sevierville, Tennessee, grew up in the Fox Chase section of Northeast Philly and attended St. Cecilia's Catholic school where he lived with his mother and stepfather, as well as his little sister, who is now a Philadelphia police detective.
“My earliest memory of church was my first confession. I became an altar boy. Father James J. Brzyski was the head of the altar boys. That's when the abuse started,” said Delaney. “I was raped by the time I was 13. He befriended my family and was at our house a lot inviting us to the rectory all while he was molesting me and at least a dozen other boys in St. Cecilia’s.”
This shocking and detailed information is told in graphic detail in the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report. Delaney was identified as “Sean” in the report.
“The Catholic Church has been looked upon as one of the most highly respected pillars in society, so when an issue of child molestation or rape is brought to attention, because the priests are so highly regarded, the accusations unfortunately are not fully investigated,” said Tyra Gardner, PhD (c), M.Ed., MS, CAMS-II, of At a Moment’s Notice, LLC.
“When children are sexually abused, they are normally told it is a secret and these victims do not tell,” said Gardner, adding that victims may display unusual behaviors such as anger, aggression and a refusal to be away from people they trust.
Delaney started acting out, getting in trouble and using drugs to the point where his mother had him charged as incorrigible. He was then sent off to St. Francis Home for Boys in Bensalem, where he stayed for about a year before they sent him to the Abraxas Foundation in Marienville for another year.
“I got out, continued using drugs, became an addict and was a bad father. I wasn't around my children for a long time. I was too self-involved in getting high trying to kill the memories of being abused. I was in and out of relationships; I couldn't handle them. I was 34 when I reached out to the Philadelphia District Attorney to tell them of the abuse. I didn't keep quiet when I came forward – I was very public. I want people to know what the Catholic Church did to me. I was no longer scared in being the public,” said Delaney.
Reporters have tracked Brzyski down, his last known location being in Texas.
Even though he admitted to his superiors that he was a pedophile in the Philadelphia grand jury report, the church saw fit to ask him to stay in ministry. The report alleged how Brzyski subjected Delaney and at least 16 other boys to "unrelenting abuse, including fondling, oral sex and anal rape" in the late 1970s and early '80s.
“They transferred him without saying anything to the new parish. They sent him knowing he had been accused of molesting young boys,” said Delaney.
He is currently fighting a law in the Pennsylvania Senate that limits the time for victims of sexual abuse to come forward. A bill that passed the House in April 2016 would have lengthened the statute of limitations so victims age 50 and under could sue the men or women who abused them decades ago as well as the institutions. Currently, victims of sexual assault over the age of 18 have 12 years to report sexual assault. Victims under the age of 18 who were born before Aug. 27, 2002, have 12 years after their 18th birthday to file criminal charges. Sexual assault victims under the age of 18 who were born after Aug. 27, 2002, have 32 years.
“It takes victims sometimes decades to be able to talk about the abuse,” said Delaney. “People need to call, write or email their representatives and congressmen and tell them to back this bill, get it passed and protect the children of Pennsylvania which has become a safe haven and sanctuary state for pedophiles.”
An online petition has been started to extend the criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sex crimes committed against minor children in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.