Update: Philly Priest Arrested for Abusing Altar Boy for Years

Click here to read and watch: “Philly Priest Sexually Abuses Altar Boy for Years: DA,” by Dan Stamm, NBCphiladelphia.com, September 26, 2013


Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced the arrest Thursday morning of Rev. Robert Brennan.

“A serial predator is now behind bars thanks to brave actions of this young man,” said Williams.

The alleged assaults, which Williams says included penetration and oral sex, happened while Brennan was an assistant pastor at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia from 1998 to 2001.

Editor’s note: Msgr. Lynn will not be charged in this case because it fell three months outside the EWOC statute of limitations.

Please note this is not the Father Brennan from the 2012 trial. That was Father James Brennan.

66 thoughts on “Update: Philly Priest Arrested for Abusing Altar Boy for Years

    1. Cecil County, Maryland. They are going through extradiction now. He was placed on restriction after the 2005 Jury Report came out. Without criminal charges these priests can just roam the community.

      1. Ok, so he was one of the 21 suspended priests or was his a separate case. Also what ever happened to the remaining 21. Are they out there still roaming the streets of Philadelphia or wherever. I cannot spread rumors but as I heard through some friends some of these priests are actually living quite a nice life, actually pursuing other professions, etc. Correct me if i am wrong but are they still receiving their income from the AD???? Why doesn’t anyone ever ask about these priests anymore? Is there anyway to find out about their whereabouts?

        1. Glenn, Kathy and I have been discussing this very question. There has been no follow up in the press and we are working on getting answers. I’ve heard and wondered the same. Is the archdiocese (through parish collections) subsidizing their new lives?

          1. Thank you. I know that it is supposed to be an ongoing investigation but really, wouldn’t you think that the AD would want to clear this up before anything could happen to another child. I am not saying that the accusations against these remaining priests are true, but really don’t you think Gina Maisto Smith needs to get a move-on? By the way, does Father Chris ever comment here anymore?

          2. Or at least share updated every 6 months or so. Gina Maisto Smith is no longer involved in the investigations. Just another reason to update us! They have a team of investigators (former Philadelphia detectives) working on those investigations now. I don’t think Father Chris has commented here lately but I know he and Kathy keep in touch. I miss his perspective and I hope he returns.

          3. Although I do not comment much, I try to stay involved in the protection of our children. Even if it is just to write letters or calls to our representatives. I certainly wish that Father Chris would return here to give us his prespective on all of this. The silence of good priests keeps me away from the Catholic religion because although some progress has been made in Philly, there is still so much more to be done. By the silence of the church, it just really makes me believe that there is so much still going on that is too hush-hush and keeps me out of the pew and my money out of the collection basket.

        2. Glenn ,I believe he was suspended a few years ago before the post GJ report 2011 removals. I have many questions not only about the suspended priests but I also have noticed that many of the priests who have now been officially removed do not seem to be listed anywhere on the Archdiocese official page of removed priests. I am following up on that

          1. Amazing, I just checked out the AD official page of removed priests and notice the same thing. Wow!! Also it is as if those several remaining suspended priests have been wiped off the face of God’s earth, or so the AD would like us to believe. I am going to check to see if any of them are still listed on the Bishop’s Accountability site. Hmmmmmm, I guess they want us to believe that “no news, is good news” I don’t think so.

  1. Here is the 2005 GJ report section concerning Robert Brennan. Seth Williams said today that the Archdiocese reported the crimes which Brennan is charged, immediately upon the victim reporting them to the Archdiocese. From my recent interactions with the Archdiocese I believe that to be true.Can you imagine though if the Archdiocese had followed that same protocol all along? If they had then most likely there would be no arrest today because there would have been no rape of a child in 1998.


    1. I was reading about Brennan again….. I read the GJ report a few years ago that’s what motivated to me to get involved with trying to create change.and I see the St. John Vianney name……..I recently was reading at adoration about how St. John Vianney was assigned to a rundown church in a seedy town where a lot of debauchery went on etc with no parishioners and he started having mass and adoration around the clock by himself and then his parish turned into a thriving parish……..but what struck me the most was a comment he made in reference to a parishioner frequently finding him crying kneeling by the altar The parishioner asked why he frequently found him sobbing by the altar and St.John replied “I cry over the things overs should but don’t”. Many in leadership have lost this capacity for a pure heart and basic compassion……….

      1. Beth, that good and compassionate man was crying because he heard they were going to name a pedophile treatment facility after him. Lol.

      2. Crystal you are probably right! I appreciate your humor…….humor has kept me sane many times:) I remember unbeknownst to Vicky she called me on the anniversary of my dad’s death and she had me go from tears to laughing in 2seconds…..laughter is sometimes the best medicine in all the chaos and suffering…….

  2. Seth Williams mentioned Lynn’s name numerous times and explained who no EWOC charges would be brought due to the statutes. Why always Lynn?..Why not mention that charges against those in the hierarchy at that time are not possible ,those with knowledge etc…it is always just Lynn like he was a one man operation.

    1. Good point Archbishop Bev is dead but what about the others? Kathy this priest was chaplain at our high school I loved that school and most of the Sisters that taught us there. I just think about all the classmates we went to school with and how if they were going thru rough times did they come in contact with this priest and did he cause them more pain and confusion its just horrible. These predator priests had access to the most vulnerable………..

      1. My other thought was did they send him to our school because it was an all girl school and he had previously molested only boys?

        1. Beth: I think you may have hit on something. There was a lay teacher at McDevitt who was transferred to St. Huberts. And the rumor mill had it that he was messing around with some of the boys. I started reading the Grand Jury report about Brennan and couldn’t finish it. I am so angry.I don’t know why. The fact that the Archdiocese and its Cardinals kept these predators in the schools is not exactly news to me. But reading how Bevilaqua handled or rather didn’t handle this priest has me extremely angry. I commend this young man for coming forward. It is extremely difficult for any man to go public with the atrocities committed by priests. It messes you up in so many ways: physically, mentally,socially, sexually, and probably most of all spiritually. I hope this man gets the help to move on with his life. It will not be easy, that I know first hand..

          1. Archbishop Bev was suppose to care for souls instead he ruined them……….Its that simple and so tragic…….so many bishops seem to have done the same………. Drwho13 stated at one point many don’t even believe in the RCC or Jesus………my question is when and why did they stop believing? Or did they ever believe? Do you have any answers to these questions DrWho13?

        2. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/07_08/2011_08_02_Miller_OblatesSettle.htm

          Beth & Jim There are a few Girls schools on this list. Remember R. Hermley – known by a few of my friends from Judge and we all thought he was retired from ministry. An Oblate told me he hates women and likes boys too much – why he was put into an all girls school. That is after I asked why he was still in ministry belonged to Resurrection for decades before entering religious life. Now revisiting people on the phone and Facebook to make sure they know about this arrest.

          Also, Cecil County is where the Oblate “retirement” community is and where their camp was located. It is a big vacation area off the bay.

  3. After watching news conference, I am so concerned that several young boys are still working in St. Jerome rectory. Aren’t the parents a little worried and shouldn’t the practice of having boys working alone with the priest in the rectory be ended!!

    1. worried parishioner,
      There are quite a few practices that need changing in the RCC in order for children to be safer.

      I’m not sure the hierarchy is interested in implementing any of them without twisting their arms to do so. I’m most surprised at the parents.

    2. worried parishioner,the last I checked with the Archdiocese the issue of minors working in the rectory is a parish by parish decision. I know pastors who have banned this practice,I know other that allow it. There is no uniformity on the safety and it amazes me. You would think even for liability that they would be advised against minors being employed at the rectory..and liability always seems to be the thing that gets things in motion.

    3. I tried to send this by phone didn’t work. Contact the pastor and parish council to change this. Our parish only has adults working in rectory. If you think abuse is occurring call the police.

      1. You can also ask who is in charge of background checks and or the business manager and like Kathy said play the liability card. Sad when that is their only motivation to change but seems the case in many instances.

    4. Worried Parishioner…Parents a “little worried”?? How about blind, deaf and asleep at the wheel?? What the….? Any parent with the sense God gave a goose knows that situation is as reckless as it gets. I’d see a giant red flag waving over that rectory.

  4. I’ve been following this priest for a few years now. Understand, this young man who came forward in this news story is NOT Robert Brennan’s only victim. There are other victims of Robert Brennan who are unable to seek legal and/or civil ramifications because of the current Statute of Limitations laws. This story is just another example of why laws must be changed immediately to better reflect protection of the innocent and vulnerable, and to hand down punishment to those scum, who have no place in civilized society.

    I commend this victim for coming forward and he will have my unconditional and steadfast support, but if the Statute of Limitations were to be changed, you would see a line of victims stretch down Broad Street and over the bridges into New Jersey and north into Scranton and likely farther in both directions.

    I know one of Robert Brennan’s victims who is unable to press charges due to the era in which his abuse occurred. This victim I know, whom I spoke with earlier today, knows four more victims who were also abused by Robert Brennan.

    Maybe justice will finally be served and these victims can rest a little easier tonight knowing that Robert Brennan is exposed and the process to remove him from civilized society is underway. These victims will be relieved knowing that today, Robert Brennan is no longer hiding in plain sight and children are safer.

    I cannot put into words the ecstasy I had felt after I finally reported the priest who raped me. It was short-lived, because of certain facts I became aware of when I finished telling my story to the D.D.A. and a police detective in Philly nearly five years ago, but sometimes things just don’t work out the way you envision them. But, I know I still had a hand in protecting children and exposing abusers, and the older victims of Robert Brennan need to know that as well. In fact, it’s very likely that the testimony of those victims from many years ago inspired this recent victim to come forward and be heard.

    I haven’t yet gotten the chance to charge my own abusers and those who covered-up for them, but I’m learning how to relish in the changes that have been made and to really listen to the people who talk about me when I’m around them or not, that “Rich doesn’t quit!” I know I will have my vengeance. I believe there are stages in every person’s life, and it doesn’t happen very often, when people have an opportunity to choose goodness over evil and are able to make the world a better and safer place to live in. I was lucky enough to recognize that moment in my life and take action to prevent what happened to me from happening to any other child. It’s really an indescribable, overwhelming, and even scary feeling to know that while I was sitting in the DDA’s office, in that exact moment, I was fighting back.

    Another victim is fighting back today and the world is a better and safer place because he recognized that moment, where he could’ve easily fallen back and faded into history as just another victim who allowed evil to get the upper hand, but instead he chose goodness over evil and I’m sure I’m not going out on a limb when I when I say, “He likely also thought of payback!” The time has come for Robert Brennan to experience hell.

    I am eternally grateful to my fellow victims/survivors who are fighting back. The only thing I care about is keeping scumbags like Robert Brennan away from innocent children and also keeping him in the limelight so that he cannot hide in plain sight any longer, and the world knows who he truly is and the horror he committed upon children.

    I will always hold unconditional and unwavering support for this particular victim and all victims of child sexual abuse. Way to go, Anonymous 26-year-old man!

    Peace out!
    Rich Green (Survivor)

    1. Rich – You and other victims/survivors who have come forward have given inspiration, I am sure, to those who are able now to speak up. Sometimes just knowing you’re not the only one speaking up can make a big difference. I am proud of those who speak up.

      I believe the victims.

      Pat Becker

  5. Thanks to the brave victim for speaking up and getting this child predator behind bars and away from kids.
    It takes a lot of courage to come forward and take action to expose the truth about being sexually abused. But let’s hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Fr Robert Brennan, will find the courage and strength to speak up and contact police, no matter how long ago it happened.
    Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  6. Thank you Brave, Anonymous, 26 year old survivor. For coming forward…for speaking truth…for who you are! Thank you, thank you, thank you. So proud of this young man.

    Let’s see…1998…I was preparing for baby #2, thinking of who would baptize her, prepping the heirloom gown she would wear…while oldest child had just completed First Communion and I was storing that dress to be passed down to child 2. Interesting…all of my concerns were about traditions and making sure my kids were a part of the church, while this young man was getting raped on our watch. I don’t think we can let ourselves off the hook..but, maybe since we didn’t really know who this man was or what he was capable of doing…..

    But they knew. They knew and did nothing. Or they knew and went out of their way to deceive. They knew and allowed this young man to be raped. These ministers of Sacraments, shepherds of flocks…they knew. They kept secrets. They lied. They carried on with business as if our children were expendable.

    Another layer of betrayal for all.

    I believe the victims.

  7. Thanks Kathy. I just don’t understand . St Jerome parish is the center of the scandal. This is just another way they say they dont really care . They refuse to pray for victims because “they don’t take sides”! I have had my fill of lies and complacency from the “priests” of this parish. There is no trust left here in the parish . The younger parents keep their kids in the school because the public schools around here are so bad. It is a sad time for so many that have dedicated their lives to the parish and have been deceived time and time again . The list of predators that have been stationed here is Beyond belief. I lost count! If someone can give me a number , I would love to know. I know it is more than 10. There is a dark cloud here

    1. Worried Parishoner: The problem is that there is no center of the scandal. It is everywhere. Everywhere in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Everywhere in the country. And as we have learned recently,everywhere in the world.The Catholic Hierarchy must be damning the internet, because they cannot hide the abuse any more. The information Highway has let the world in on the secrecy of childhood sexual abuse and the coverup that goes straight to the Vatican.

      1. Jim,
        You are right…there is no center to the scandal. It’s just that the spotlight is currently in Philly and specific hot spots for assignments.

        I assure you…every diocese has its secrets, its hidden predators, and a line of hierarchy that have enabled. This is not new to Philly or St. Jerome’s.

  8. WE also have a sister of ST. Joseph here that helped out in the parish with her office in the school. She is now moved out of the school and into the rectory. She is not allowed near the children anymore But if anyone asks what happened, we are kept in the dark. We know that something happened with one of the eighth graders two years ago and she was told by her oder that she cannot be near the children. This is just so typical of St. Jerome parish. Everything is in the dark. She should not even be here anymore. Very sad times . SHe was one of several teachers down at the Engelhardt trial to be a character witness for him. But she was taken by surprise when the lawyer asked her why she was not allowed around children and she said “that does not apply to this case”.

  9. “…Bevilacqua testified before the grand jury that he considered Brennan’s problems “innocuous-sounding boundary issues….”
    Was the late Cardinal’s understanding here based on his Canon Law Degree perspective or his Civil Law Degree perspective?

    1. Glatts from St. Andrews Drexel Hill don’t see his name anywhere and didn’t hear on news he was reinstated . He was retired. still being investigated?

      1. “They did not believe me as my story was out of line with the others or at least they told my family and I that”

        Dave we believe. So many victims did come forward and did not receive the justice they deserved. So many warned us like you. That DA and reporter sent the wrong message. You are brave following through. Thank you for helping others even with all your pain.

      2. Beth I was referring to the priest whose cases have been decided..I don’t see Givey’s name anywhere. I believe Glatt’s case is still pending a resolution.

    2. Monsignor Vincent Walsh is not on any list He was pastor at presentation in wynnwood. He then was assigned to the villa and put in charge if the Spanish apostolate . Now he is not allowed to say mass . No explanation given. His first assignment was living with cardinal kroll at the mansion . Does anyone have any information?

      1. I found an article about Walsh when he stepped down as pastor. I don’t see him on the list of clergy..I will try to find out for you.

        1. Yes, this is the same Vincent Walsh. But when he left as pastor, he continued to work as a priest. He remained on the clergy list until about a year and a half ago when his name was suddenly removed???

          1. That is a different person.. that is spelled with an E . I want to be every clear about confusing people’s names. I will do my best to find out about Vincent Walsh Walsh with an “a”

      2. I grew up in Presentation BVM Parish. Even as a young girl, I didn’t get a good feeling from him. As a single mom, he would knock on my door unexpectedly to see if my grade school-age son could play basketball with him at a park within walking distance. He often was intoxicated on these visits. I always followed them shortly thereafter, so I know nothing happened, but I was suspect of his behavior. I eventually had the rectory/school/convent numbers blocked on my house phone. Enough was enough.

  10. I myself was abused by Brennan. I was at St. Eleanor’s and have been involved with this since just after the 1st Grand Jury Report. I am one of the 20 who was unable to do anything. The church had us investigated by form FBI special Investigator Jack Rossiter. He harassed my entire family and tracked down all of my former classmates, one all the way in Alaska and he made a point of letting us know that. They did not believe me as my story was out of line with the others or at least they told my family and I that. In the beginning they claimed there wasn’t even any proof of me being an alter boy until one day a picture turned up from an old newspaper that had me in it. They asked Brennan to take a lie detector test and he refused or at least that is what they told us. They then began really pressing me to take one, I ended up hospitalized for a few days. The DA’s office and a reporter caught wind of this and we never heard from Jack again. I even believe that specific experience changed their rules and Jack was required to bring a victims assistance advocate with him from then on. I can tell you that this new brave mans experience was in line with mine and I am glad he will get justice. I hope to be able to feel some sense of justice through him but right now it is just painful. A side note to this is – Brennan was friends with the pastor at St. Eleanor’s and the two of them co owned a condo somewhere, maybe in Maryland. I have never heard him mentioned ever. I know he died awhile ago.

      1. Dave. one Mother told me that the kind treatment she received from the DA’s office was what she had expected from the Church and did not receive.

    1. Dave..If I have the right person we have not heard from you in awhile. I think of you often and am so glad to see you back. I am so sorry for what you went through with the investigation..if only they had been that diligent with the abusive priests all those years.

    2. I know who john (jack) rossiter is and he likes to give you the impression when he contacts people that he is an FBI agent. He is no longer an agent an I question his methods, I do not know if he still works doing investigations for the rcc, last I knew he lived in Norristown

  11. It is so horrible that he managed to get away with that for such a long time. Unfortunately, still so many children around the world suffer from child abuse and so many abusers get away with that. 🙁

    I just published one of such stories on my blog at http://otrazhenie.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/abuse-a-child-go-to-prison/ with a petition “Abuse A Child = Go to Prison” . If we won’t break the silence and won’t stop such abusers, who will?

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  12. Another name that is not on any this….at least that I see is Rev. Louis Bier. He was ordained in about 1976. A few years ago, he was told to leave the rectory and no one has any answers why or where he is now.

    1. From St Francis? A news report alluded to it being something that did not involve minors so he would not be on the list of those with allegations of abuse or boundary issues if it was adult situations.

  13. Yes, from St. Francis. Someone just mentioned to me that Father Patrick McCormick from St. Timothys and Father Joseph Gallagher who lives in St. Timothy’s parish i(not in the rectory) is not on a list either.

  14. Speaking of St. Timothy’s in Northeast Phila., the pastor is a member of the Archdiocesan Review Board in correspondence dated October 17, 2012 on the archdiocesan website.

    Reverend Stephen Leva
    Father Stephen Leva serves as Pastor of Saint Timothy Church in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia. Father is a native Philadelphian, growing up in Olney and attending Saint Helena Elementary School and Cardinal Dougherty High School.

    1. If he was the same pastor when McCormick was arrested and then the minor came on to the C4C site saying that Mccormick had texted him, I believe the pastor’s response was swift and appropriate about the texting.

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