Prosecutors Of Philadelphia Priests Raise Decades Of Buried Abuse Cases
By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The prosecution in the Philadelphia clergy sex abuse case has alleged a history of coverup and enabling by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (see related stories).
Today, as they built their case against Msgr. William Lynn and another priest, prosecutors presented evidence of similar actions by the archdiocese going back decades.
In one case dating back to the 1960s, prosecutors say, an alleged serial pedophile priest was allowed to remain in ministry for two decades after admitting his crimes.
Prosecution evidence alleges that Fr. Raymond Leneweaver repeatedly admitted to the archdiocese that he was having sex with boys at various times from the late ’60s to the late ’70s.
There was treatment at an archdiocesan hospital, the evidence shows. His prognosis was always favorable, and he was returned to ministry each time.
In 1980, Father Leneweaver was assigned to Bucks County because, according to a church official, it was one of the few remaining areas where his scandalous actions were not known.
Leneweaver remained in ministry until the early ’80s, when he quit the priesthood. He later wanted back in, but defendant William Lynn and other church officials recommended against it.
The defense, through questioning, suggested this demonstrates that Msgr. Lynn was doing his job, trying to keep pedophiles away from children.
Another victim who came forward with her story of abuse also testified today.
She said that she came from a devout Catholic family and her mother went to mass at least once a day, volunteering her daughter to work in the rectory.
That’s where, she says, she was fondled repeatedly by Father Albert Kostelnick for about three years.
She says she later learned that two younger sisters had also been molested but says she didn’t report it then because she didn’t think her mother would believe her.
When she told her mother years later, the woman testifield today, the response she got was, “Let it go.”
She finally came forward in 2001, and the prosecution alleges that despite multiple other reports about Fr. Kostelnick going back decades, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia allowed him to remain in ministry.
Kostelnick denied the abuse allegation but was later removed from ministry.
Lynn, who oversaw the assignment of priests to schools and parishes across the Philadelphia region, faces accusations that he failed to keep priests accused of sexual abuse away from minors. Co-defendant Rev. James Brennan is accused of sexually abusing boys in the 1990s.
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