PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – John Doe number 172 was 13 years old and an altar boy at Resurrection of Our Lord in Northeast Philadelphia when his attorneys say the abuse began at the hands of Father Robert Brennan.
“He would take the kids, build their trust, groom the parents,” said Jeff Anderson, Doe’s attorney, “have them sit on his lap, use their bodies for his own sexual purpose.”
Anderson and his team of attorneys say Father Brennan abused John Doe over the course of a year and a half between 1993 and 1994. But according to the 2005 grand jury report, Brennan abused many more children before the Archdiocese of Philadelphia removed him from ministry in September of 2005.
“Brennan abused child after child after child, and the rule was secrecy,” said Marci Hamilton, one of the attorneys for John Doe 172.
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The report says Brennan abused at least twenty boys in four different parishes starting in 1988. After reports of abuse piled up at one parish, the grand jury found the church hierarchy, including Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and Monsignor William Lynn, moved him quietly.
The grand jury report says, “Cardinal Bevilacqua was firm that, in all cases involving sexual abuse, parishioners were not to be told the true reason for removal.”
It took John Doe eighteen years to tell his parents about the abuse he says he suffered. He now lives in Phoenix with his father, unable to hold down a steady job. His attorneys say he suffered a breakdown when he was only fifteen. He now suffers from depression and has tried to take his own life.
Father Brennan appeared before the 2005 grand jury, but declined to testify in his own defense. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia declined comment about the latest lawsuit.
To read the lawsuit, click here.
Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS 3