By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A priest and former lay teacher were taken into custody immediately after a jury convicted them of sexually assaulting the same boy, the same victim who was assaulted by another priest who pleaded guilty last year. The convicted defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in April.
Father Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero face possible maximum sentences of decades in prison and District Attorney Seth Williams says there’s really not enough jail time that they could get for what they did.
The victim, now 24, testified in painful detail to the attacks when he was just 10 and 11-years-old. Prosecutors have praised his courage. But, he was not in the courtroom for the verdicts. His civil attorney, Paul Lauricella says he was relieved to return home, outside this area, after his testimony and he now knows the result.
“He’s relieved, he’s gratified. He’s, quite frankly — you can’t say ecstatic in a situation like this because the story is so troubling, so horrible, that it is not even a time for joy. It’s a time for more relief and reflection.”
The victim’s parents were in court. They embraced prosecutors Mark Cipolletti and Evangelia Manos, but left the courthouse without commenting.
District Attorney Seth Williams, who calls it a tremendous verdict, praised the courage of the victim who has now testified in two trials.
“You saw during the course of this trial how they tried to victimize and demonize the victim of this case. So, I am very thankful that the jury listened and rendered the verdicts that they did to hold these two men accountable, responsible for the heinous crime that they committed.”
Defrocked priest Edward Avery pleaded guilty last year, but testified during this trial he just pleaded to get a good deal.
“To have him come and say that he only pled that way not because he was guilty, again it was some sort of continuing the conspiracy, continuing the cover-up to protect them, to protect the church at the expense of the victim which again shows the level of evil that existed in these men.”
Defense Attorney Michael McGovern says he still believes 100 percent in Father Engelhardt’s innocence and he will fight this injustice.