Philadelphia Priest Charles Engelhardt Accused of Sexual Abuse and Rape Earns Time in Jail

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A 24-year-old man accused a priest and a lay teacher of sexually abusing him when he was a 10-year-old altar boy at Saint Jerome’s parish in Northeast Philadelphia.  The conviction earned them lengthy sentences in jail.

The Reverend Charles Engelhardt of Wynnewood, 66, was sentenced for a period of six to 12 years for child molestation.  Former teacher Bernard Shero of Levittown, was sentence to a sentence of eight to 16 years for rape.

The two men maintained their innocence.  Engelhardt claims that he did not know the man who accused him.  He said he had no recollection of his face or name.

“I’ve accepted this injustice and I will continue to do so until it is righted, because I believe it will be righted,” said Engelhardt, who has lost 50 pounds since the accusation surfaced in 2009. “I had no interaction with the accuser in any way.”

Shero, who had not previously spoken in court, said he had not problems with the young man who was a member of his sixth-grade class at Saint Jerome’s parish in the late 1990’s.  His accuser was not present.  He was represented by his parents.  Their professions are as a nurse and as a policeman.  They told they court that they had struggled with their son’s heroin addiction for years.

“I had absolutely no problems with him. I remember him being a great kid,” Shero, 50, told the packed courtroom, divided in its support for abuse victims and accused priests and teachers. “Thank God I had my family behind me. Mr. and Mrs. (Doe), thank God he’s got you. That’s a wonderful thing.”

Their accuser testified that the abuse resulted in his use of marijuana at age 11, and that he has been in rehab 23 times.  He has been incarcerated multiple times.

Before the two men were sentenced, defense attorneys asked the judge to throw out the January verdict and called for a new trial.

Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler rejected their request, based on the jury’s verdict.

“In the end, they believed the victim. They found him credible,” Ceisler said.

Defense attorneys immediately announced that they would appeal.

Philadelphia has been plagued with sexual abuse cases, committed by Catholic priests and teachers.  Defrocked priest Edward Avery pleaded guilty last year to sexually assaulting the same boy who has also accused the defendants now on trial, Engelhardt and Shero.

In July, 2012, Monsignor William Lynn was sentenced from three to six years.  The first U.S. church official convicted of endangering children in the priest-abuse scandal asked for probation instead of prison, saying he had already experienced months of scrutiny, vilification and shame.

Father James Brennan was also convicted in the 2012 trial, which lasted six months.  The jury deliberated for two weeks.

Lawyer for the young man’s family, Slade McLaughlin, said that the criminal conviction will support the civil action.  He said that the amount of damages will now be the only item in question.

Said defense lawyer Burton Rose, who represents Shero: “The money angle cannot be disregarded here.”

James Turnage

The Guardian Express

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2 Responses to "Philadelphia Priest Charles Engelhardt Accused of Sexual Abuse and Rape Earns Time in Jail"

  1. TacoBob   June 19, 2013 at 6:26 am

    This reminds me of an episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia where two characters accused a priest and their old gym teacher of sex abuse in order to get cash from the school and the church. The characters were exposed near the end, but nonetheless it makes you realize just how low people will stoop to make cash in today’s cruddy day and age.

    Reply
  2. DPierre   June 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    This case was an absolute fraud. The two men are completely innocent.

    Any clear-thinking person looking at the facts of this case would easily see that the accuser – an admitted drug addict with a lengthy arrest record – totally made this up to get cash from the Catholic Church.

    I hope the bigots and haters are happy with themselves.

    Reply

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