Ex-altar boy testifies about sexual abuse by Philadelphia priests

Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:25pm EDT
 

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A 23-year-old man testified on Wednesday in the child sex abuse case against the Philadelphia Catholic Archdiocese that he was molested by two priests, one of whom prosecutors said had been known to church officials as a sex abuser years earlier.

The testimony came at the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary of the clergy, who is charged with child endangerment and conspiracy over accusations he covered up abuse allegations against priests, many of whom were simply transferred to unsuspecting parishes.

The case has put a spotlight on the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the nation's sixth largest with 1.5 million adherents, and experts say has likely caught the eye of the Vatican, given Lynn's rank as the highest U.S. church official to go to trial in the abuse scandal.

Lynn faces the possibility of 28 years in prison if convicted.

Wednesday's witness testified that in 1998 when he was 10 years old and serving as an altar boy, he was abused by Rev. Charles Engelhardt and Edward Avery, who is no longer a priest, at St. Jerome's in northeast Philadelphia. Reuters does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they come forward to identify themselves.

Avery ordered him to do a strip tease in a church storage room, he testified.

"I was swaying back and forth and took off my clothes," he said before detailing sex acts that he said Avery demanded.

He said that before the abuse incidents: "I was happy. I was outgoing, a people person." In the years that followed, he said he battled drug abuse and as a teenager attempted suicide.   Continued...

 
Monsignor William Lynn returns to the courthouse after lunch recess on the opening day of his child sex abuse trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer