Court Orders Competency Hearing for Bevilacqua


Breaking news from the Inquirer.

“Court Orders Competency Hearing for Bevilacqua,” by David O’Reilly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 5, 2011

Excerpt from linked article:

“A judge has set March 26 as the trial date for the first member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the nation to be charged in a clerical sex abuse scandal and four codefendants.

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina also set Sept. 12 for a competency hearing for Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, under whose watch the alleged abuse occurred.”

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14 Responses to “Court Orders Competency Hearing for Bevilacqua”

  1. That is absolutely wonderful news about the competency hearing for Bevilacqua. Just too bad the trial isn’t sooner than March.

  2. As I read the transcripts, I heard Cardinal B refer again and again to “the law”… ‘it is required by law, it is a crime under the law, etc.’ In virtually every case he was referring to canon law tough he never made that explicit. The impression I came away with is that he wanted to communicate that he lived in a world that had its own law and law enforcement. Thus I am happy to see the institutional church reminded of its community obligations under civil law. I do not trust Church leadership or their lawyers. B could well be quite healthy.

    Not telling the truth might be the root of all that is wrong here. Maybe turth telling is what institution needs to nurture if the system is ever to be healthy again. Take the simple example of the story told about celibacy being a gift from God blah blah blah… This is a story made up after the fact. There is no recognition that the practice did not start until the 11th century and that the rationale was a financial one — protecting church property.

  3. It is interesting that if Cardinal Bevilaqua has been suffering from infirmities such as dementia over the past few years, that he was still able to hold some very important positions. He retired just this past December as the ecclesiatical advisor to the Catholic lay group Legatus.
    Bevilaqua writes”In an age when relativism and materialism pervade our society, I have been edified by the example shown by Legatus members in their efforts to serve as „ambassadors in the marketplace,‟” he said. “They live the mission statement of Legatus in every aspect of their lives — to „study, live and spread the faith.‟ They are the stone thrown into the water which sends ripples far and wide. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as ecclesiastical advisor.”
    Cardinal Bevilacqua assures members that he will continue to do for them what he has been doing for a long time: “I pray that our Heavenly Father will continue to bless all of the members of Legatus and their families.”

  4. And why is his name still listed as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Papal Foundation
    The Papal Foundation
    Board of Trustees

    Members:

    Donald Cardinal Wuerl
    Chairman
    Archbishop of Washington, DC

    William Cardinal Keeler
    Vice Chairman
    Archbishop Emeritus, Baltimore, MD

    Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
    Archbishop Emeritus, Philadelphia, PA

    Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
    Archbishop of Galveston – Houston, TX

    Edward Cardinal Egan
    Archbishop Emeritus, New York
    Francis Cardinal George, OMI
    Archbishop of Chicago, IL

    Roger Cardinal Mahony
    Archbishop of Los Angeles, CA

    Adam Cardinal Maida
    Archbishop Emeritus, Detroit, MI

    Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
    Archbishop Emeritus, Washington, DC

    Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley
    Archbishop of Boston, MA

    Justin Cardinal Rigali
    Archbishop of Philadelphia, PA

  5. Good for the DA to have Cardinal B tested for competency on Sept 12th. Hopefully it will be by experts who won’t let him “pull the wool” over their eyes.

    Its a sad day & a shame I have to feel this way but our former Archbishop of Philadelphia has fooled us too many times.

  6. Here’s Something Interesting from today’s Legal Intelligencer:

    The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office moved today to disqualify law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young from representing both the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia and retired Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua in the latest round of allegations of church sex abuse.

    During the pretrial conference today, prosecutor Patrick Blessington said that it would be a conflict for Stradley Ronon to be representing both the archdiocese and Bevilacqua in a case in which prosecutors allege that a church official failed to protect children by shuffling accused sexual offenders to new parish assignments.

    Blessington also raised the issue that it could be a conflict for the archdiocese to be paying for the lawyers for Monsignor William Lynn, of Downingtown. Lynn was the personnel director for priests when serving as secretary for clergy under Bevilacqua’s tenure leading the archdiocese.

    Lynn’s defense lawyers are Thomas A. Bergstrom, of counsel with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in Philadelphia, and Jeffrey M. Lindy, of The Law Offices of Jeffrey M. Lindy in Philadelphia.

    Michael O’Mara, a partner at Stradley Ronon, said that he had no notice that prosecutors would move during the court date to remove the firm. O’Mara, however, said that the archdiocese is not a party to the criminal charges.

    Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina, citing Stradley Ronon chairman William R. Sasso’s testimony before the grand jury in February, said that Sasso, when discussing his representation of the archdiocese, did not say that he represented the cardinal personally.

    O’Mara said that he believes that Sasso is representing both the archdiocese as well as Bevilacqua in a personal capacity. But he said he would have to confer with Sasso to confirm one way or the other.

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was of counsel at Stradley Ronon after he served as the first Philadelphia inspector general under former Mayor John Street and before he ran for district attorney a second time.

    Blessington’s motion came on the heels of the discussion of prosecutors’ motion under the Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 500 to preserve Bevilacqua’s testimony “after institution of criminal proceedings.”

    Blessington said that the court should grant the motion and order that Bevilacqua’s testimony be taken because those close to Bevilacqua say that his mental and physical health is deteriorating and taking his testimony now would “allow us to preserve his testimony before any further deterioration” in his state of health.

    Sasso said that Bevilacqua has dementia, does not always recognize Sasso when he visits and Bevilacqua’s doctors said any testimony he would give at a grand jury would be unreliable, the grand jury said.

    If Bevilacqua is incompetent, Blessington questioned if he could waive the alleged conflict for Stradley Ronon to represent the archdiocese and Bevilacqua.

    Bergstrom argued that prosecutors have already waived the issue on Bevilacqua’s competency because they did not require Bevilacqua to testify during the investigating grand jury proceedings because, he said, they acknowledge that he was unable to testify.

    Sarmina, however, said that prosecutors might not have needed Bevilacqua’s testimony for the grand jury proceedings and might not have wanted to go through a hearing over his competency and about compelling his testimony until it was necessary.

    One prosecutor, sitting in the back row with Blessington standing to address the court, said “Thank you” in a whisper as Sarmina made her response to Bergstrom.

    Sarmina set a hearing on whether Bevilacqua’s testimony will be preserved by court order for Sept. 12. The hearing also could address the motion to disqualify Stradley Ronon, she said.

    Sarmina said she would review Bevilacqua’s medical records for the past two years ahead of time and those must be provided by Aug. 22.

    Blessington said that prosecutors also want to be able to review the cardinal’s medical records. He said that physicians’ diagnosis that Bevilacqua may be incompetent is driven by information provided to the physicians. He said that the cardinal could act one way with his physicians in order to make it seem that he is incompetent but act more cogently with others.

    Sarmina said she wanted prosecutors to submit case law so she could decide if they are entitled to see the medical records. But she said prosecutors also could present fact witnesses challenging the argument that Bevilacqua is incompetent to testify.

    A gag order is in effect in the case.

    Prosecutors estimate that the trial will take four months, Blessington said.

    The judge set jury selection for Feb. 21 and set trial for March 26.

    Defense attorney Burt Rose, who is representing defendant Bernard Shero, said that Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian A. Ransom has granted a motion to dismiss the charge of conspiracy against Shero, but denied his motion to sever Shero’s case from the other defendants.

    Rose said he has filed a motion with Ransom to reconsider that decision.

    Shero’s case would take less than a week if it was tried separately, and Rose said it would be an “injustice” for Shero to have to spend four months in trial when his own individual case would take much less time.

    Prosecutors argue that Lynn is criminally culpable. They allege priests were able to abuse children because Lynn, Bevilacqua and other church officials did not respond to reports of inappropriate emotional intimacy or direct sexual abuse by moving the alleged abusers out of contact with children; reaching out to law enforcement; or initiating stringent internal investigations.

    Bevilacqua has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

    One adult victim in his 20s reported that he was sexually assaulted by two priests and a parochial schoolteacher during the 1998-99 school year at St. Jerome School in Philadelphia when he was a fifth grader. Another adult victim in his 20s reported that a priest who had developed a close friendship with his family sexually assaulted him during a sleepover at the priest’s apartment in 1996.

    Prosecutors have charged two priests, the Rev. Edward Avery and the Rev. James Brennan, whom Lynn allegedly failed to supervise. Avery, of Haverford, has been charged with raping and assaulting a victim given the pseudonym of “Billy” in the grand jury report. The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, of Wyndmoor, and former parochial school teacher Shero, of Bristol, were also charged with raping and assaulting the same victim.

    Brennan, of Linfield, was charged with raping and assaulting the second victim, Mark Bukowski.

    Amaris Elliott-

    • O’Mara said that he believes that Sasso is representing both the archdiocese as well as Bevilacqua in a personal capacity. But he said he would have to confer with Sasso to confirm one way or the other.

      What other way can you represent someone ? You either represent or do not represent someone , this is a game of semantics being played by ‘stradley, ronon,
      hopefully this attempt at confusing the issue will not influence the Judge

  7. Michael Skiendzielewski Reply August 6, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Reached Friday, (William) Sasso said in an e-mail that his testimony before the grand jury had been his “best recollection” that he had not seen Bevilacqua at social events in a long time. “With your reminder, I did recall seeing him at Bud [Hansen’s] event,” he wrote. “What is relevant is not that he was there, but the fact that he was obviously in poor health.”

    This is the same WILLIAM SASSO that is designated an “INNOCENCE PROTECTOR” on the website of Mission Kids, a Montgomery County children’s agency that provides services to victims of sexual abuse. Does Cardinal Bevilacqua consider William Sasso an “INNOCENCE PROTECTOR” for the children of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

    Judge Sarmina and William Sasso – September 12th will indeed be a special day in court!

    • Well it is possible that ‘bevilaqua and sasso’ were at different events at different times. If ‘bevilaqua’ was in such poor health then he should have stayed home at his mansion on City Ave. Obfuscation is a tool of the Guilty !

  8. Michael Skiendzielewski Reply August 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Do you think a Bevilacqua associate should also be required to have a “competency hearing”?

  9. Just the fact that Judge Sarmina (who I think is fabulous so far) is ordering this arrogant man to haul himself in and face questionning is huge. Though he and many others think they are above such lawful procedures, Judge Sarmina is sending them a clear message …..THEY ARE NOT.

  10. carole siskind
    you know that cardinal Bevilaqua will play the ‘I don’t remember card’. I hope the experts can see past that!!!

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