PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Four current or former priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — including a high-ranking monsignor — and a former Philadelphia parochial school teacher have formally entered their not-guilty pleas as they prepare to stand trial in a child sexual abuse case that has rocked the Philadelphia area (see previous story).
Defense lawyers remain upset that prosecutors have not handed over the discovery they promised: more evidence, including testimony from the grand jury report that named the five defendants (see related story).
But the majority of the hearing today was spent looking at appointment books and cell phone calendars to arrange a date agreeable for presentation of motions.
After the hearing, outside the Criminal Justice Center in Center City, victim advocates criticized the men and the church hierarchy. One group, Massachusetts-based Voice of the Faithful, held a briefing to speak about the consequences of the grand jury report.
Dan Bartley (below), President of the national organization, called the situation in Philadelphia “deeply disturbing.”
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“And it’s further proof that the bishops are incapable of protecting our children and policing themselves,” Bartley told reporters. “Catholics throughout the country and throughout the world should stop giving their time, talent and treasure to this organization until it gets its act together.”
Bartley wants the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to amend its charter to make audits, diocesan review boards and victim advocacy programs more independent.
The Archdiocese, for its part, released the first in a series of bulletins about what the church is doing to prevent sexual abuse from happening again.
The bulletin lists efforts to report allegations of abuse to law enforcement and investigate the accusations in the grand jury report, but it also tries to explain the silence of the Archdiocese. It reads, “As an active investigation, it would be inappropriate and unfair to those parties to share further information as no judgment or determination has been reached.”
“This is going through a process of justice, and when we get to the other side, I hope justice will be served,” said Coyne.
Lynn is on administrative leave, charged with endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the alleged assaults.
Victim advocates say they expected the defendants to plead not guilty, but they say the evidence and the trial will prove otherwise. The men will be in court again June 6th for a pre-trial hearing.
Watch the video…
To read the full bulletin from the Archdiocese, click here.
Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060; Oren Liebermann, CBS 3
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