Warning: The following is extremely explicit and is not suitable for those under 18. The editors of C4C think this information is critical to understanding the crisis in our diocese. As sickening as the sexual details are, we want to stress the Archdiocesan coverup and transfer of criminal priests is the most heinous element. We also believe it is important for other parents to understand the pathology of the crimes that could occur in any setting.
We applaud Billy on his brave testimony and our prayers and support go out to him. We hope he finds some justice with the upcoming trial and his civil case.
Excerpt from the 2011 Grand Jury Report on Clergy Sex Abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese:
Section II – The Sexual Abuse of Billy
This Grand Jury investigation began with the tearful testimony of “Billy.” Billy was a 10-year-old student in Barbara Mosakowski’s fifth-grade class at St. Jerome School in Philadelphia when two priests molested and orally sodomized him during the 1998-99 school year. Billy had signed up to be an altar boy at St. Jerome Church because his brother, who was three years older, had been one. He also participated in the “maintenance department” of the school’s bell choir, meaning that he took the bells out of their cases before choir practice and put them away at the end.
Rev. Charles Engelhardt abused Billy in the church sacristy after Mass.
Billy’s first uncomfortable encounter with a priest took place after he served an early morning weekday Mass with Rev. Charles Engelhardt. While Billy was cleaning up in the church sacristy, Father Engelhardt caught him drinking some of the leftover wine. The priest did not scold the 10-year-old altar boy. Instead, he poured him more of the sacramental wine and began asking him personal questions, such as whether he had a girlfriend.
While discussing such matters, Father Engelhardt pulled pornographic magazines out of a bag and showed them to Billy. He asked the boy how it made him feel to look at pictures of naked men and women, and which he preferred. He also told Billy that it was time for him to become a man, and that “sessions” with the priest would soon begin. With that enigmatic statement, Father Engelhardt let Billy go to school. At the time, the fifth-grader did not understand what the priest meant; he just put the episode in the back of his mind, and went about what he was doing.
About a week later, Billy served another early morning Mass with Father Engelhardt. When they were in the church sacristy afterwards, the priest instructed Billy to take off his clothes and sit on a chair next to him. As the boy nervously complied, Father Engelhardt undressed himself, and then began to caress the 10-year-old’s legs. He repeated to Billy that it was time for him “to become a man,” and proceeded, in Billy’s words, both “to jerk [Billy] off” and to perform oral sex on him.
At Father Engelhardt’s direction, Billy next fondled the priest’s genitals, and then got on his knees and put the priest’s penis in his mouth. Father Engelhardt called Billy “son,” and told him he was doing a good job as he instructed the boy to move his head faster or slower. After ejaculating on Billy, Father Engelhardt told him he was “dismissed.”
About two weeks later, Father Engelhardt asked him if he was ready for another session, but Billy emphatically refused.
Rev. Edward V. Avery learned that Father Engelhardt had abused Billy, and then did the same thing.
Father Engelhardt left Billy alone after his unsuccessful attempt to arrange a repeat “session,” but the boy’s ordeal was far from over. A few months after the encounter with Father Engelhardt, Billy was putting the bells away after choir practice when Father Edward Avery pulled him aside to say that he had heard about Father Engelhardt’s session with Billy, and that his sessions with the boy would soon begin. Billy pretended he did not know what Father Avery was talking about, but his stomach turned.
Soon after the warning, Billy served a Mass with Father Avery. When Mass was ended, Father Avery took the fifth-grader into the sacristy, turned on music, and ordered him to perform a “striptease” for him. Billy started to undress in a normal fashion, but Father Avery was not satisfied and directed him to dance while he removed his clothes.
Father Avery sat and watched Billy with an “eerie smile” on his face, before getting up and undressing himself. When they were both naked, the priest had the boy sit on his lap and kissed his neck and back, while saying to him that God loved him and everything was okay.
Father Avery fondled Billy’s penis and scrotum, and then had Billy stand so that he could perform oral sex on the boy. As the priest fellated the 10-year-old, he stuck his finger in Billy’s anus, causing him to react in great pain.
After sucking on Billy’s penis for a while, Father Avery announced that it was time for Billy to “do” him. He directed the 10-year-old to fondle his genitals and then put the priest’s penis in his mouth and suck on his scrotum. The session ended when Father Avery ejaculated on Billy and told him to clean up. The priest told Billy that it had been a good session, and that they would have another again soon.
They did, a few weeks later, following an afternoon weekend Mass. As Billy was cleaning a chalice, Father Avery again directed the 10-year-old to strip for him. When Billy did as he was told, the priest fondled and fellated him again and, this time, licked his anus. He made Billy “jerk him off” as he performed oral sex on the boy. After Father Avery ejaculated, he left Billy in the sacristy.
From then on, Billy avoided serving Mass with Father Avery by trading assignments with other altar boys. But, like many children who are sexually abused, he was too frightened and filled with self-blame to report what had been done to him.
Sixth-grade teacher Bernard Shero raped Billy in the back seat of a car.
Billy had a slight break over the summer between fifth and sixth grades. He went to the New Jersey Shore with his family and, for that period, did not have to serve Mass with Father Engelhardt or Father Avery. But when he returned to school in the fall, he found himself in the sixth-grade classroom of Bernard Shero. Shero, according to Billy, was “kind of a creep.” He touched students when he talked to them, and would put his arm around students and whisper in their ears. Billy testified that Shero’s conversations with students were inappropriate, and that he would try to talk to Billy about intimate things.
One day, Shero told Billy he would give him a ride home from school. But instead of taking Billy straight home, he stopped at a park about a mile from the boy’s house. When Billy asked why they were stopping, Shero answered, “We’re going to have some fun.” The teacher told Billy to get in the back seat of the car. He directed his student to take his clothes off, but then became impatient and started helping Billy to undress. Shero then fondled Billy’s genitals and orally and anally raped the now 11-year- old boy. Shero was only able to get his penis part-way into Billy’s anus because the boy screamed in pain. The teacher then had Billy perform the same acts on him. As Billy did so, Shero kept saying, “It feels good.”
After raping Billy, Shero told him to get dressed. He then made the fifth-grader walk the rest of the way home.
Billy suffered physical and emotional harm as a result of the abuse.
Although Billy was too frightened to directly report the abuse as a child, he experienced otherwise unexplained physical problems that corroborated his testimony before the Grand Jury. In the fifth grade, when Fathers Engelhardt and Avery were having their “sessions” with him, Billy complained to his mother of pain in his testicles. In the sixth grade, when Shero raped and orally sodomized him, he went through an extended period when he would gag and vomit for no reason. His mother took him to doctors for both conditions, but there was never a diagnosis. Billy’s mother turned over to the Grand Jurors her records of her visits to doctors with Billy.
Billy’s mother also told us of a dramatic change in her son’s personality that coincided with the abuse. His friends and their parents also noticed this personality change. Billy’s mother watched as her friendly, happy, sociable son turned into a lonely, sullen boy. He no longer played sports or socialized with his friends. He separated himself, and began to smoke marijuana at age 11. By the time Billy was in high school, he was abusing prescription painkillers, and eventually he graduated to heroin.
It was at an inpatient drug treatment facility that Billy first told someone about his abuse. Billy’s mother testified that she probably should have suspected something before then, because she found two books about sexual abuse hidden under Billy’s bed when he was in high school. She asked him about the books at the time, but he covered up for his abusers by telling her that he had them for a school assignment.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese had assigned Father Avery to St. Jerome even though Msgr. William Lynn, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, and other high-ranking officials knew he had abused another boy and could not be trusted around adolescents.
In at least one instance, the blame for the abuse Billy suffered did not lie with the perpetrators alone. The Secretary for Clergy, Monsignor William Lynn,1 who is now the pastor at St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, had recommended Father Avery for assignment to a parish with a school. He then failed to supervise or restrict his contact with adolescents in any way. Msgr. Lynn did this even though he knew that Father Avery had sexually abused another boy and could not be trusted around children.
While we cannot know Msgr. Lynn’s motivation for this abhorrent decision to allow a known child molester unfettered access to children whose parents had entrusted them to the Archdiocese’s care, we know that it gravely endangered the welfare of the parish children – a danger that was tragically realized in Billy’s case.
to be continued….