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Philadelphia Child Sex Abuse Trial Revisits 2008 Church Probe of Accused Priest

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By Tony Hanson and Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The prosecution in the Philadelphia clergy sex abuse case today shifted its attention back to defendant James Brennan, who is accused of sexually molesting a fourteen-year-old boy in 1996 (see related stories).

Today, the jury heard statements made by Father Brennan during a 2008 church investigation of the allegations.

During questioning by one church official in 2008, Brennan denied that he had sexually assaulted his accuser.  He said that nothing happened physically between them but conceded that he had made a number of regrettable decisions that night — including allowing the boy to stay overnight in the first place, giving in to the boy’s demand to watch porn on the Internet, and sleeping in the same bed the night of the alleged assault.

But in that 2008 church probe, Brennan categorically denied any physical or sexual contact.  In related questioning, Brennan denied ever massaging the boy in public, although witness told church investigators that he once saw Brennan massaging the boy’s shirtless shoulders during a party at the boy’s home.

Church officials who had questioned Brennan before the official inquiry reported that Brennan said he had been sexually abused by four boys as a child, but during the official church inquiry Brennan denied that.

The accuser – who is now 30 – testified earlier this month that the visit was far more sexually graphic and in an emotional statement said Brennan got into bed with him and “that man raped me and he knows it. That’s why he’s here today.”

Co-defendant Msgr. William Lynn is charged with endangering the boy by allowing Brennan to remain in ministry despite earlier documented concerns about Brennan’s conduct (see related stories).

Lynn and Brennan have pleaded not guilty.

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