A policeman's son testified Tuesday that he withdrew from friends, sports and school clubs, and began a long descent into heroin addiction, after he was molested by two priests and a Catholic school teacher by age 11.
The gaunt, troubled 24-year-old has become a key figure in the
decade-long prosecution of priest sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Tuesday marked the second time he's
testified in open court.
His stunning complaint, filed in 2009, led to last year's
landmark child-endangerment conviction of a Philadelphia church official
who transferred accused pedophile-priests to new parishes at the behest
of two archbishops.
According to the trial witness Tuesday, defrocked priest Edward Avery
made him do a striptease dance and engage in oral sex after a Saturday
afternoon Mass in 1999.
"He just sat there with this eerie smile. Like he wouldn't want to be
anywhere else but there," the accuser testified. "He said, `This is
what God wants.'"
The accuser said he walked home afterward and took a shower.
Avery has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the impish, slightly
built altar boy. But the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 66, of Wyndmoor and
ex-teacher Bernard Shero, 49, of Levittown are fighting the charges at
Jurors saw boyhood pictures of the witness in his school uniform and
altar boy cassock, a sunny contrast to the man with brooding eyes and a
flat affect before them. His monotone voice wavered only once or twice,
when he acknowledged that he was too young to understand the sexual acts
that allegedly unfolded in church anterooms or a parked car.
He said he was first abused at St. Jerome's Parish in northeast
Philadelphia after Engelhardt caught the 10-year-old drinking altar
wine. And he said Shero sexually assaulted him when he drove the boy
home after detention.
lawyers will no doubt attack inconsistencies between his testimony and
that of other witnesses when the trial resumes Wednesday.
somewhat different takes on an alleged disclosure to a high school
friend as the two drank beer in 10th grade, and of their discussion when
they ran into each other at a bar last year.
The friend said that he
first asked if anything had come out of the topic they'd discussed,
while the accuser said he had brought it up.
And the accuser said he had
forgotten telling the friend about it.
Both discussions occurred while they were drinking, as the defense lawyers noted.
One has called priests "a bull's-eye" for dubious accusers looking for a church payout.
Avery, who moonlighted as a disc jockey and was nicknamed "the
Smiling Padre," is expected to testify for the government during the
Before his transfer to St. Jerome's, he admitted to church officials
that he had fondled a teen accuser, according to church documents aired
at the trial of the church official, Monsignor William Lynn.
testimony would be his first in open court about the priest-abuse
It's not clear if he'd be asked about a string of other accusers who
have come forward since his 2011 arrest. He has not been charged in
The accuser was expelled from a Catholic high school in ninth grade
and asked to leave a private Christian school two years later.
he now works for relatives in Florida, and, after 23 stints at rehab,
has been sober for 12 months.
He told jurors that he didn't tell his parents about the abuse
because he thought he'd get in trouble.
He described the priests and
nuns at his school as "almighty."
"They're basically another parent, but a little holier," he said.