By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Roman Catholic priest and a former Catholic school lay teacher were sentenced today to long prison terms for sexually assaulting a schoolboy a decade and a half ago.
Judge Ellen Ceisler today sentenced Father Charles Engelhardt to 6-12 years in prison, and former lay teacher Bernard Shero to 8-16 years in prison. Both were convicted last January of sexually abusing the same grade-school student.
Defense attorneys for both men immediately popped up in the courtroom to say they would appeal.
Before sentencing, the standing-room-only courtroom heard the defense lawyers argue unsuccessfully for a new trial for their clients.
The prosecutor read a victim impact statement from the key witness in the case, and family members and friends of the defendants said they believed the pair were innocent.
Engelhardt addressed the court, denying that he even knew the now-24-year-old man who accused Engelhardt and Shero of sexually abusing him when he was a ten-year-old altar boy at St. Jerome’s parish in Northeast Philadelphia.
Engelhardt said he had no recollection of the man and didn’t recognize him when he appeared in the courtroom during the trial. He said he would “accept this injustice until it is righted,” adding he knows it will be.
Shero says he didn’t abuse the boy and that’s why he didn’t take a plea deal when it was offered.