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November 12th, 2013

Philadelphia Priest Abuse Update – James Brennan’s Trial Moved Again

Recap of this historic Philadelphia priest sex abuse case:

Over the course of the last two years, 2 Philadelphia area priests (Father Charles Engelhardt; Father Edward V. Avery) and one Philadelphia Catholic school teacher (Bernard Shero) were convicted of sexually abusing a minor, a boy entrusted to their care at a local parish and local Catholic school. A Monsignor (William Lynn) was also convicted of endangering the welfare of children, for covering up the abuse.

A final case remains to be tried. Father James J. Brennan is scheduled to be retried following a hung jury that resulted in a mistrial last year in August 2012. After his mistrial, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office immediately indicated it would retry the case. The case was sent back to the trial docket. It was then assigned to Philadelphia trial judge, Robert Coleman.

Related: Philadelphia’s Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal March 2013 Update

Brennan’s Trial Pushed Back Twice – At the Request of Brennan’s Defense Team

The case was initially docketed for trial on March 6, 2013. On that day, due to a defense request, Judge Coleman entered an order rescheduling the trial 7 months away, for October 21, 2013. The Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas docket does not indicate the reason for the order.

Then on October 21, 2013, the case was rescheduled again. This time, the trial was scheduled 8 months away, for June 16, 2014. The court docket clearly indicates that this was another request made by Brennan’s defense team; the reason given was “further investigation.” The June 16 trial date is date-certain. In other words, the trial must commence on that date.

Phila Priest Abuse Update james brennan 10-21-14

Criminal defense lawyers often delay trials for strategic reasons, especially for cases that are being retried. Interestingly, the docket indicates that the defense team’s notice of the request to reschedule trial was given that same day, on October 21, 2013.  If the reason was in fact for “further investigation,” filing a motion to continue the trial that day indicates something new fell into the laps of Brennan’s defense lawyers.

Coincidentally, a similar Philadelphia priest abuse case against Robert Brennan was dismissed right around October 21, 2013. In that case, the key witness and alleged victim of sex abuse died of a suspected drug overdose, and therefore prosecutors were forced to abandon their case. It is possible that the defense team in James Brennan’s case is hoping for a similar outcome.

Related priest and pastor sex abuse articles:

About our Philadelphia Priest Sex Abuse Lawyers. Representation by a Former Prosecutor

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