Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse for the accused priests…

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse…

According to accounts from the Associated Press, this morning jurors in the landmark church sex-abuse case in Philadelphia were presented with documents surrounding a priest who was convicted on child porn charges yet permitted to remain a priest for years after.

The AP story said that prosecutors presented years of correspondence from mental health facilities, therapists and church officials regarding Edward DePaoli when he was a priest. The documents, kept in the archdiocese’s secret archives, outlined how DePaoli, after being convicted in federal court of child pornography charges in 1986, went through psychological treatment, rounds of therapy, and a half dozen church assignments for two decades before he was removed from the priesthood in 2005.

There are a few things troubling about today’s proceedings. First of course is that this priest – who apparently was teaching an ethics and morals class at the time of his arrest – was allowed to remain active and second, that the Archdiocese has supposed “secret archives.”

As the story points out, DePaoli is not a defendant in the trial but prosecutors are using the testimony about him and others to build a case against Monsignor William Lynn, who was the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004 and entrusted with investigating complaints against priests. He also was an apparently is still the pastor at his Downingtown parish.

The AP notes that Lynn is the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged with endangering children for allegedly transferring priests suspected of molestation. The charges are that Lynn kept pedophile priests in parish work around children to protect the church’s reputation and avoid scandal. He faces up to 28 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and child endangerment.

Also on trial is the Rev. James Brennan, charged with raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Those alleged assaults took place in a West Chester apartment. He and Lynn have both entered not guilty pleas. A third co-defendant, former priest Edward Avery, entered a guilty plea on the eve of the trial to a sex abuse charge and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison.

According to the AP, the paper trail presented by prosecutors today began with his 1986 conviction, when he was assistant pastor at Holy Martyrs parish in Oreland in southeast Pennsylvania. He was found to have magazines, films and videotapes of underage boys. He received a one-year suspended sentence and was sent to counseling.

“Doctor reports in December 1986 warned that DePaoli ‘is likely to repeat his past behavior and to become progressively worse … he could go beyond fantasy (regarding) his sexual fantasies towards children’ and he was ‘in need of extensive psychological work.’ Instead, DePaoli was transferred out of the Philadelphia archdiocese to St. John Vianney Church in Colonia, N.J., for three years. In 1991, he returned to Philadelphia as associate pastor at Saint John the Baptist Church.

“In 1992, priests reported DePaoli was again receiving pornography in the mail and parishioners reported that he made inappropriate comments at a children’s Mass about imagining an 8th grade girl naked.

“The priest rejected the archdiocese’s suggestion for in-patient hospitalization and lobbied to return to Saint John the Baptist but the priests there were vehemently opposed, according to the documents. DePaoli was put on administrative leave and eventually went to St. Gabriel’s rectory in the rural Montgomery County town of Stowe, near Pottstown.

“A nun testified Monday that she was fired from her job as director of education at St. Gabriel’s in 1996 after she reported to then-Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua about sexually explicit magazines and other mail arriving for DePaoli shortly after his arrival there.”

So here’s where we are: there is a priest accused of hiding alleged pedophile clergy; there are secret archives for material the world should never see; the church just continued to move these priests around until the complaints started pouring in and when a nun – a respected member of the Catholic religion – says something, she gets the boot.

I am a betting man by the way. And right now I am betting that this isn’t going to end up well for the church or the priests in the crosshairs – who by the way deserve to be there based on what I’ve read so far.

It’s time for all parties to come clean once and for all. We all need to hear the nasty truth if that’s what it is. It’s the only way to move forward.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse…

– Andy Hachadorian

About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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