Defense Challenges Credibility Of Accusers In Priest Abuse Scandal

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A fierce legal battle is shaping up in the case against three priests and a Catholic Church Monsignor charged in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of boys. Skilled, tenacious, veteran attorneys on both sides are battling over multiple pre-trial issues, and attacks on the alleged victims have raised concern in the district attorney’s office.

All of the defendants, through their attorneys, have denied the allegations and some of the attorneys have publicly challenged the credibility of the accusers, citing substance abuse and legal problems.

Philadelphia DA Seth Williams isn’t buying that argument.

“To say that somehow because what happened to him when he was ten which caused him to become addicted to drugs that somehow we can’t believe him,” Williams said. “I think what has happened to him in his life since that time is more indicative of what happened to him as a child at the hand of those priests.”

Defense attorney Mike McGovern, who represents Father Charles Engelhardt, says the defendants are presumed innocent.

“I think whenever an individual accuses not just one, but two, but three separate people of abuse from the same school from over ten years ago, his credibility had to be tested at a preliminary hearing.”

And the two sides are arguing over whether there should even be a preliminary hearing or if the case should go straight to trial.

Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio

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  • Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh

    I would like to add that the American attorney defending Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican is claiming diplomatic immunity due to the Vatican claiming sovereign state status.

    I believe that sovereign state status for the tiny piece of land called the Vatican, less than 2 acres in the city of Rome, and diplomatic immunity must be challenged, so that all the records of the Vatican, in regard to cases of priest sex abuse worldwide, can be investigated by non-Catholic and non-biased police and attorneys.

    It is important to get to the root of the problem. All roads lead to the Vatican and to centuries of secrecy on the issue of priest sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

    In order to learn more about the nebulous claim to diplomatic immunity by the RCC, I recommend the new book, THE CASE OF THE POPE, by Geoffrey Robertson, human rights attorney, and judge at the United Nations, for crimes against humanity.

    Mr. Robertson challenges the claim of the Vatican of being a sovereign state. He challenges the claim of Pope Benedict having diplomatic immunity. He rightly calls the sexual abuse of innocent children by priests of God as “soul-murder”.

    I have to wonder where are the integrity and transparency of Pope Benedict XVI and of many in the hierarchy, if they want to hide behind a nebulous claim of diplomatic immunity to protect themselves from giving depositions and opening up records? What are they hiding from?

    The truth needs to be known. Priest sex abuse needs to be treated as a serious crime and prosecuted. The victims/survivors must be not be re-victimized. They need to be free to tell their stories and be listened to with respect and care, as they try to continue on their journeys to healing.

    As a Catholic and as a physician, I have met many good priests and nuns in my life.

    It saddens me that the leaders of the RCC seem to lack the concern and compassion that a parent would have. I do believe that mandatory celibacy has caused these men to be out of touch with normal human life and normal human feelings.

    There has to be a change in the structure and leadership of the Roman Catholic Church for it to truly serve the needs of our world.

    Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh


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