Abuse case against Phila. priest and former teacher nears its end


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I thank George Bouchey for this link.

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Abuse case against Phila. priest and former teacher nears its end

The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, on trial with Shero, is among 5 charged in a grand jury report.

GALLERY: Abuse case against Phila. priest and former teacher nears its end

Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer

POSTED: Thursday, January 24, 2013, 3:01 AM

After eight days of testimony, the Philadelphia jury in the child sex-assault trial of a priest and a former parochial-school teacher is expected to hear its final witnesses Thursday.

Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler told jurors Wednesday that they would begin deliberations this week.

The judge’s comments ended a day in which 20 defense witnesses testified for the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero.

What remains unknown is whether either man will testify in his defense for the alleged serial rape of a 10-year-old altar boy in 1998 and 1999 at St. Jerome’s church in Northeast Philadelphia.

The parties have been under a strict gag rule since both men were charged in February 2011 as part of a county grand jury probe of alleged clergy sex abuse of children in the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Of 20 witnesses Wednesday, 19 were character witnesses – 13 for Engelhardt and 6 for Shero – who described the men as peaceful, law-abiding citizens.

The exception – Louise Hagner, the archdiocesan victim-services coordinator – spent the entire morning on the witness stand amid cross-fire questioning from defense and prosecution lawyers.

The defense called Hagner in their continuing attack on victim-accuser “Billy Doe’s” credibility.

Billy, now 24, alleges that Engelhardt, 66, and Shero, 49, raped and assaulted him when he was in fifth and sixth grades at St. Jerome’s.

Defense lawyers maintain that the assaults never happened and have portrayed Billy as a troubled, drug-addicted man trying benefit from the church sex-abuse scandal by suing the archdiocese.

Hagner, who said she fields sex-abuse allegations against priests and church personnel and arranges for social support services, testified about her telephone and in-person interviews with Billy on Jan. 30, 2009, a day after he called the archdiocesan sex-abuse hotline.

Questioned by Michael McGovern, Englehardt’s attorney, and Shero lawyer Burton A. Rose, Hagner read from her interview notes and testimony before the grand jury.

Hagner’s account of what Billy told her was at odds with the accuser’s own testimony last week.

It contained far more physical violence with Billy alleging, according to Hagner, that Engelhardt and Shero and another priest had punched, choked, and threatened him before the rapes.

In his own testimony, Billy told the jury he remembers nothing he told Hagner because he was high on drugs.

Hagner testified that Billy, though he wept, seemed sober and told her he had been “clean for six months.”

Hagner, however, appeared to wilt under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti, who suggested she was more interested in documenting Billy’s case to help the church prepare a lawsuit defense than provide social services.

“I am proud of all the work I did for victims,” Hagner said.

Cipolletti noted that Hagner previously described Billy’s speech as “slurred.” He also questioned why Hagner noted the names of Billy’s lawyers but did not ask him about discrepancies in his stories.

“I am not an investigator,” retorted Hagner, adding that her job was to record the allegation, make sure the abuse was reported to civil authorities and archdiocesan lawyers, and arrange for counseling and services for the victim.


    6 Responses to “Abuse case against Phila. priest and former teacher nears its end”

  1. Frank Lostaunau Says:

    Is Louise Hagnar a licensed clinical professional? Or, is she a employee with no advanced clinical training in a university professional school?

    I read an article that referred to her as a social worker.

    If she is a licensed clinical professional, she is likely a mandated reporter. Did she ever submit a report to the appropriate office in the state where she practiced?

  2. Frank Lostaunau Says:

    Reporting Law: http://www.preventchildabusepa.org/faq.php

  3. Michael Skiendzielewski Says:

    I know what document I would like to have…..job description, duties, responsibilities, etc. for archdiocesan employees like Maggie Marshall and Louise Hagner. Archdiocesan personnel and their first responsibility is to (1) the victim or (2) the employer ??

    Asked that same question of a pastor, who was also a civil attorney, shortly after the release of the first GJR in late 2005. Should a parent bring an allegation of sexual abuse to you about a teacher, employee, etc., Father, where is your first responsibility, to your employer or the alleged victim? He accused this writer of having a “political agenda”. One could surely say that Archbishop Chaput has a “political agenda” as well, given all of the time spent in Harrisburg since his arrival in Philadelphia.

  4. Frank Lostaunau Says:

    Clearly, it’s to the victim.

    Michael, do you have any photos of Maggie Marshall and Louise Hagner. I’ve been looking for photos to post. They’ve covered their track.

    REWARD: You get a private blessing from moi if you post photos of the Missy Maggie and/or Missy Hogner.


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