Legal Expert Says Bevilacqua’s Death Won’t Affect Philadelphia Priest Child-Abuse Case

By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Will Cardinal Bevilaqua’s death (see related story) affect the ongoing priest-abuse case?  Not much, says one legal expert who is very familiar with the case.

There is now a gag order imposed on all parties in the case (related story), so neither the prosecution nor defense can make statements in reaction to Bevilacqua’s death.

Bevilaqua underwent a deposition in November, and a judge this week overruled defense claims that he was not a competent witness (another related story).

Charles Peruto Jr., the former counsel for one of the accused priests and a longtime defense attorney, says Bevilaqua’s death changes nothing.

“It has absolutely no legal significance since the judge already ruled that his testimony is admissable at trial, as he was subject to direct and cross examination previously,” Peruto tells KYW Newsradio.

Peruto says defense lawyers would have to present previously unknown evidence, and get the judge to change her mind, in order to keep out the cardinal’s deposition.

Peruto says the prosecution has suffered “no loss with the cardinal’s death.”


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  • ken

    SNAP reports on other religions? I didnt know that. I thought it was just a catholic thing. It appears that it is – they should really change thate.

  • Judy Block-Jones

    This news of Bevilacqua’s death can be a very difficult time for
    victims (who were once innocent children) but were sexually abused
    under his watch. Especially when we see him being praised and
    glorified for being such a good holy man.

    Keep on thing in mind, you are not alone with your pain and anger,
    and there is hope, help, and a chance to heal. Thousands who know
    your pain are with you in spirit.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the
    world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
    SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite
    the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by
    religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis,
    bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were
    assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer
    camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc. Our website is

  • Neil Allen

    Here’s where Peruto is wrong.

    If Bevilaqua had gone to court and had actually told the truth, (which is probably that he willingly moved known child rapists), then it would have made a difference. Of course, everyone just assumes Bevilaqua would lie.

    Also, if the jury could tell that Bevilaqua was lying, that would also have made a difference.

  • Robert Housel

    doesn’t anyone think it is strange that since he was just told he could testify a day later he turns up dead, shouldn’t you guys be reporting on that, it seems 1 hell of a coincidence doesn’t it

    • Neil Allen

      Robert Housel,

      Are you claiming that the Catholic church would commit crimes just to hide thier other crimes? Oh, wait…..

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