By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The jury in the clergy abuse case has heard detailed testimony from a witness and a prosecution investigator.
A woman, now a Sister in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, has testified to the frustration and anger as a cousin and priest who abused her remained in ministry for years, even after she reported the alleged abuse to the Archdiocese. The prosecution alleges a pattern of protecting predator priests by the Archdiocese and defendant Monsignor William Lynn, who has pleaded not guilty.
The witness has testified she was molested by Father Nicholas Cudemo when she was in her teens. She was confronting evil, as she put it, and she learned years later other family members had also been assaulted. And they all went to Archdiocesan officials, including defendant Monsignor William Lynn, in 1991.
Father Cudemo, against whom there had been complaints dating back decades, took a leave of absence the following year, but continued in ministry. He even got a letter stating he was a priest in good standing.
The defense has argued Monsignor Lynn did what he could, but he didn’t have final say on priest placements. This witness has testified Monsignor Lynn had other options, he didn’t have to go along, he could have quit.
Cudemo was not charged, but he was defrocked in 2007 because the church found credible allegations of abuse of a minor.
A prosecution investigator detailed another series of allegations against an alleged predator priest, ordained in 1964.
The prosecution has presented evidence Father Robert Brennan was the subject of repeated allegations of inappropriate conduct with minors — extreme hugging, forcing boys to sit on his lap, even kissing — by multiple boys at multiple parishes. And he was told to keep a low profile in the parish.
Although there was therapy, he remained in ministry until 2005. His case is still being investigated by the Church.
Although Monsignor William Lynn is not charged in connection with the Robert Brennan case, the prosecution is presenting this evidence to show an alleged pattern of conduct of protecting alleged and admitted predator priests.
Monsignor Lynn has pleaded not guilty and the defense argues, as Secretary for Clergy, he did not have final say on priest placements.
Father Robert Brennan should not be confused with Father James Brennan, a defendant in this case. James Brennan has pleaded not guilty to charges he sexually assaulted a teen.