Court Upholds Sentences of Priest and Lay Teacher for Sexual Abuse of Altar Boy

Click here to read: “Prison sentences upheld for priest and lay teacher in sexual assault of altar boy,” by Matt Gelb, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 26, 2015


A state Superior Court panel upheld this week the prison sentences of a Catholic priest and former parochial-school teacher convicted of sexually abusing a 10-year-old altar boy from Northeast Philadelphia.

The Rev. Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero, a former St. Jerome teacher, were sentenced by a Common Pleas Court judge in June 2013 for abuse that occurred in the late 1990s.

23 thoughts on “Court Upholds Sentences of Priest and Lay Teacher for Sexual Abuse of Altar Boy

  1. I suppose it would be easy to gloat and say we told you so and that justice has been served. It doesn’t ever really feel that way to me .Guys like Shero and Sandusky are serving prison terms but what does that really do for a victim? I believe the effects of childhood sexual abuse are lifelong. Victims get a lifetime sentence. The priest who molested me back in 1961 died around the same time I was getting sober. Memories of the abuse came two years later. I never got to confront the guy .Cardinal Bevilaqua died before he could be charged with any crimes. I believe he could have been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.Father Englehardt died after his appeal was filed. Some will claim that justice will be seved on judgment day. I guess if I believed in that it would make it easier.

    1. Go ahead gloat a little Jim; you have that right. Victims can never be made completely whole. All society can offer victims is law suits, and prison time. My position is that victims take as much money from RC Inc. as possible, and the pervs are given as much prison time as possible. Imperfect for sure, but it’s all we have in this world.

    2. Jim,
      I never really understood the long term affects of sexual abuse on survivors til I saw it first hand in a loved one. I had up until then only studied it in Nursing school from books. As much as one tries and as much as family tries to love a survivor the wounds are still there and it is truly heartbreaking. After experiencing all this the thing I think is that we can’t change the past but we can try our best to remove these monsters from society so they don’t hurt more kids. They never stop no matter how old they are even Archbishop Chaput knows this I just don’t understand how he sleeps at night intentionally blocking legislation to protect children for purely monetary reasons. I just sense a total lack of faith in God.

  2. My stomach is upset and I have this desolate feeling because the catholic church is such a source of torment. The leaders in the church are capable of feeling guilty for their actions, but rather than feel guilty they appeal their case to the state Supreme Court. This tells me they are denying guilt feelings so they do not have to modify their behavior. To defy guilt expresses this deep fear of retribution and allows the church to act ever more irresponsible. It is the abuse of power and the church has become immoral to the point it must do even more immoral things to avoid feeling guilty. Very simply the church is terrible and the terrible thing is they do not want to feel guilt.

    If children’s innocence and open wonder at existence can be taken away by the catholic church than the Vatican will be attacked. ISIS has claimed before 2020 they will attack the Vatican and the vengeance will be directed to the Red Hats and the Pope. People are fighting for justice and from this perspective justice means retribution. The difficult part about this type of justice is it creates war and I suspect this will be the start of World War III.

    If the catholic church cannot exercise its power properly than I suspect war might be God’s justice. I really cannot be certain about this or what God justice might mean, but I do know the hierarchy in the catholic church cannot escape the judgment of others about their actions. The church is bringing out aggression and insecurity, which will have a bad effect. It is remaking the world in its image, fear, and completely at the mercy of anxiety. Because of the church is cowardice people are becoming ruthless to fight ruthlessness, unjust to fight injustice.

    The church has a right to fear retaliation and I suspect it will be treated without mercy. However, I also believe pain and suffering are there to awaken us to a deeper self. Suffering is within anxiety and pain is shocking. When suffering and pain are consciously accepted it takes us within a deeper self, an awakening self that can chose a meaning it has for us. Once the suffering compels a meaning the deeper self is chosen. It creates us and suffering then becomes a positive force, not only giving meaning for our life but sustains this deep awareness. The self is possessed in the moment and in this choice the fear of separation stops. It creates an authority from within, both a self that suffers and one that transcends it. The Unmoved Mover is moved from within, a loving communion, and God becomes everything where we trust this Divine Indwelling.

  3. Jim, I travelled down to Tennessee and it took a full weekend to locate one of the priests that raped me. He was having his beautiful home built in the middle of woods, so you can imagine how difficult it was to finally find him. I went down with lots of support. One of my friends had bought a video camera. I walked up to his front door, he came out and he sat on his front bench and proceeded to tell me (who he did not remember as one of his victims) his story of what took place with, me. He was perfectly fine with my friend’s video camera taping this. When he finished ( this happened in 2006) I calmly told him who I was and then said “now I will tell you what REALLY happened”. When I arrived home in NJ I took the video to the Archdiocese review board and told them to watch this tape. After seeing the tape they decided in my favor and put him on the Archdiocese website. I was very grateful that I had this opportunity to confront him. So, I understand how you must feel never having this confrontation take place with your perp. It is so empowering. I think what is most difficult for us as survivors is that we see so little of justice being imparted on these evil men that robed so much of who we were when we just children. Jim, for me my friend, I do believe that if justice is not given in this lifetime you will receive it as you face God. In their arrogance they think that if they say “I’m sorry” as they take their last breath they will be forgiven. God is a God of mercy however, God is also a God of justice. He knows your heart and he knows your soul. These evil men that did these unspeakable crimes to vulnerable children, will, meet the God of justice because these acts were committed in HIS name! So Jim, have faith, they will meet their end in hell. Give yourself this gift of peace and remember that good will always trump evil.

    1. I wanted to appreciate your for being assertive Vicky. There is something in your actions that has served justice and maybe it is simply you being realistic. Truth and justice is the center of your picture. It even appears you are extremely concerned about others being treated fairly. Your hatred of injustice appears as a principle and appears within you. Your consciousness speaks, because truth speaks to the soul and is the voice of justice. I thank you deeply for being mature and well-balanced, as this appears to be the soul of reason and is the heart of justice for me.

      1. Ah Syd! I have missed you and you know me all to well. How are you doing? I so often think of you and Jim. You because of the spiritual path you are on and Jim because his history and the time frame are so similar. I love the sentence “Your consciousness speaks, because truth speaks to the sou land is the voice of justice”. I am a warrior when it comes to truth, where their is truth their is justice. Truth is the hallmark of one’s soul without it, one fades from the light. Thank you my friend for your kind and loving response to me. I have been able to find some peace on this very, very painful journey and I have also found, me. What they tried to destroy in me instead gave me the opportunity to fight for what I believed in myself. They couldn’t take from me my passion and love of God, not the God they want you to believe in but the God that encourages truth which is the authentic self. I could finally let go of all “their” untruths and center in on what truly is the true essence of God. I am so blessed to hold this unique experience within the inner walls of my faith. My Faith, not theirs!If as a survivor I have reached others in a supportive and loving way to find their truth and perhaps a molecule of peace, I am humbly grateful. I feel the anguish and the agony of my survivors, I know their pain. I am not yet totally free of my demons. Till the day I am called to eternal peace I will continue to fight these demons head on because I refuse to allow any of my priest abusers to win over my truth!

        1. Vicky,

          I love these words from Sinead O’Connor’s song: “Take me to church but not the ones that hurt, ’cause that ain’t the truth, and that’s not what it’s worth.” I translate, “I’m the only one I should adore,” into ” ‘I AM’ the only one I should adore.” The name of God from the burning bush.

          I don’t wanna love the way I loved before
          I don’t wanna love that way no more
          What have I been writing love songs for?
          I don’t want to write them anymore
          I don’t wanna sing from where I sang before
          I don’t wanna sing that way no more
          What’ve I’ve been singing love songs for?
          I don’t wanna sing them anymore,
          I don’t wanna be that girl no more
          I don’t wanna cry no more
          I don’t wanna die no more
          So cut me down from this here tree
          Cut the rope from off of me
          Sit me on the floor,
          I’m the only one I should adore

          Oh, Take me to church,
          I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
          Yeah take me to church,
          but not the ones that hurt
          ‘Cause that ain’t the truth
          And that’s not what it’s worth
          Yeah, take me to church
          oh, take me to church
          I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
          Yeah, get me to church,
          but not the ones that hurt
          ‘Cause that ain’t the truth
          And that’s not what it’s worth

    2. Vicky: AS I was reading your post, I kept thinking what arrogance this man possesses. And that seems to be a trait that many of those who molested us as children seem to show. I thought about the priest who confronted and attacked Rich as he protested outside the Church in the Northeast .When I think back upon the priest who molested me, he had that same trait.And many of the Bishops and Archbishops who have denied, lied and covered for these priests seem to have that same smugness about them. It seems as if they feel they are above all of this.As I watch this current Pope, I get the feeling that he has the capacity for much more. Now I may be very wrong. That has happened a few times in my life. Francis is confronting this arrogance and aloofness on many fronts. The abuse of children doesn’t seem to be his first priority. Vicky, you have been an inspiration to me ever since I started blogging on this site.Every time I read something here, I can feel your strength and hope. I thank you for all that you do for victims, myself included.

      1. Hello My Friend Jim, I think of you so much. How are you doing? I have been sick, but ok now. Thank you for your post to me. It means the world to me that I have in some way given you hope! One dies without Hope. You, my friend also are a inspiration to me and many others on this site. Kathy said you are the male of me! Quite a compliment. I love this quote “My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome”. Believe in this then you are truly free!

        1. Vicky: I had a pretty hard winter. I believe I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. This winter was extremely cold but also very overcast. Lack of sun tends to make me depressed. I don’t deal well with complements. Never heard too many growing up in my extremely dysfunctional family. Of course I don”t deal well with criticism either and I heard plenty of that. I am a little overwhelmed with the concept that I am your male counterpart. I am extremely pleased that anyone would put me in the same sentence as you let alone compare us.I believe that you and I share many of the same beliefs and we grew up back in the fifties and sixties. WE have been dealing with the issue of childhood sexual abuse for over fifty years. When I started posting here, I was immediately attracted to you and Rich. I could tell that both of you knew what I had endured and could relate to me. When I heard that you went into churches to talk to priests and lay people about what you had gone through and how the Church had treated you I was blown away. I have always been good with the written word but public speaking has always been one of my greatest fears.To have the strength to do that, I find truly remarkable. I believe that you and I share the same road to recovery.Sometimes in looking ahead,I fail to look back at how far I have come. I need to do that more often.There are steps in the recovery process that you seem to have mastered and I feel light years behind. But each one of us must do this recovery thing at our own pace.I know that if I look ahead, you will be leading the way.

          1. There is a sentence I read once that stuck with me, it said “I choose to value myself, to treat myself with respect, to stand up for my right to exist.” Jim, you have survived through the worst of the abuse this tells me of your strength and your courage. Stand with me and let’s reclaim what was ours, refuse to allow them to win because we have worth! I can value you (which I do) but unless you see value in yourself they are winning.The challenge for us today, and it is not an easy one, is to maintain high personal standards while feeling that one is living in a moral sewer. I have claimed that I am”enough” the project goes on to infinity-because the battle was already lost on the day I conceded the issues were debatable. Yes, i am a product of the “late”50’s and 60’s. It was a tough time for us as children growing up during a time when everything was either black or white with no grey. To grow up in that culture and on top of that be sexually abused by trusted priests it is a TESTAMENT to our strength and endurance. You are no longer alone Jim, stand with me, we are the first of true survivors! You are more than “enough.”

          2. Jim, I witnessed Vicky speaking at Our Lady of Grace Church and I can truly say God was with and in Vicky that day. If I remember correctly even Vicky said afterwards God was present. It was amazing and I was in awe of her. Many people were moved and even came up to Vicky to thank her for speaking. I believe with God all things are possible and that is a day I will never forget……..heaven and earth touched ever so briefly that day.

          3. Thank you Beth, Vicky, Jim and everyone for being caring and having a good heart. Your presence is such a powerful and healing force. Your healing, for me, is your ability to be fully present as a individual. It is this place of enormous dignity and self-respect that makes my relationship with myself and others satisfying and with a new depth. You are all profound and all a new force entering the world. You have all made a difference. Your presence is significant and is simply being in your presence.

    3. To Vicky whom had the fortune of being able to relate her “encounter” as relayed to Jim, here in this forum. I too had the fortune ( I call it fortune for lack of a better word, simply ), to surprise my pervert, whom raped me when I was 12 &13 years old. I am now 44, and my mother, God Bless her deceased soul, knew I was going to go “visit” him some years ago. She knew why, as I simply wanted him to come to my family and apologize, his last name is Marsico, she repeatedly asked out of fear, (almost insisting) to go along, Bless her heart, doubting I could do this, and I suppose wondering, as she wasn’t raped, but my mother, wondering why putting myself in harms way, would make me feel better. I was doing this for her, my dad, my sister, etc..( I am male, btw, irregardless, as rape is female/male victimization equally ). Sure enough, he was getting ready for work as he works as a travel agent with bankers hours, I suppose. He stood on the other side (protection for him, I now see, as weak as a screen-door really is. However that screen door reminded me of the many young Confessions, I had with him hearing of my 10,11 etc., year old sins. I told him my objective. He stated often, as I asked often, he couldn’t do it. ( Frankly, I believe he was so close to my family that he was more afraid of my mother than my dad. He continuously acted as if he was having a heart attack. Ironic, really, as many sessions of bad nerves, suiscidal thoughts, as I have had. That, frankly, is my business, self served by him btw..
      I did, for close to an hour, off and on, bring up the fact of why he hadn’t ever brought up the family in politics within our State of Pennsylvania, or ever once, if he thought to what harm potentially he, at the time, was doing to them. He seemed very unconcerned for them. I asked so often, during those 3 hours, to tell me again, just why he would put his fathers, brothers son in such jeopardy, his own cousin, whom is the Polices’ Police (DA) he shrugged…shrugged, and did another of the heart attack sessions.
      So, my point here is that the victimizers don’t even care that the family there in, could be jeapordized, what damage he did to me, my family, for God’s sakes, his own political family for that matter, are often of no concern for the rapists. For, apparently, they have one objective. Vicky, one thing you did do, that I so regret…a video camera, but for me, that thought falls short, real quick, as I was alone in this, I had no camera, just a see through meshed screen door, much like a confessional though. Only this time, he was on the other side. To this day, haven’t heard from family that he has shown up, as he certainly does know where I live, as with family.

      1. So many times on this site I see so much heart break but its the courage of our survivors that makes me speechless. I just wish and pray for all of you to find justice and peace.

      2. fossil5400, thank you for telling your story. I have enormous respect for what you did for yourself. What your mom did not know is that your confronting your perp was so empowering for you. Three hours was a long time, I am sure you were able to get a lot out. You gave that little boy of 12 and 13 one of the greatest gifts, you stood up, you confronted the monster and in doing so, told that little boy it was not his fault and that you would ALWAYS be there to protect him from any kind of harm. You took the shame away from that small boy and put it where it belonged. I am so very proud of you! You gave that little boy permission to move on and mature as a pretty wonderful, caring man. You had more guts in your little toe than this priest had whole body. What I think survivors forget is that in the word survivor it means we survived and because we survived many of us are stronger, more compassionate, more loving and have a very strong sense of truth. Now look at the abuser, weak, sick, unfeeling, narcissistic, narrow minded, false and last but not least, evil. I’ll take a survivor over an abusing priest any day. High five to you, my friend!

  4. “Holy anger is that divine passion and energy given through the Holy Spirit, coupled with the gifts of courage and fortitude to a human being in order to become instrumental in the Will of God in a particularly confrontational situation.”

    1. I so admire you. You are the definition of a real man! What you did for yourself and family is heroic, to me!

      1. Vicky, your kind words speak volumes to me. Thank You kindly. This inactivity & last name association being, I am told, “unverifiable”, has got to be stopped. Again, thank you kindly.

  5. You can read the article on the National Catholic Reporter website…

    There are unsubstantiated rumors that Finn will resign.

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