The jury in the Philadelphia priest sex-abuse case requested at least eight documents, but one — in which a Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia investigator interviewed a defendant for the church’s internal sexual-abuse investigation — was withheld.
Deliberations are slated to start again this morning with the jurors being informed about which documents they can and they can’t see.
The case is believed to be the first criminal prosecution in the country of a church official who did not directly sexually abuse a child on charges of causing harm to alleged abuse victims.
After receiving the jury instructions and spending a couple of hours of deliberation Friday, the jury was sent home over the weekend.
Among other documents, the jury requested seeing a copy of the elements of the crimes of endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy, but not the elements of the crime of attempted rape.
Monsignor William J. Lynn is accused of endangering the welfare of two men who testified they were respectively abused by former priest James J. Brennan, who is maintaining his innocence, or former priest Edward V. Avery, who pled guilty to the abuse.
Lynn also is accused of conspiring with Avery to endanger the welfare of D.G. and other unnamed youths. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina acquitted Brennan and Lynn of a conspiracy charge levied against both of them.
Brennan is accused of the attempted rape and endangering the welfare of M.B. The Legal is not naming the alleged victims.
The jury also requested a copy of M.B.’s criminal abstract. Brennan’s attorney argued in his closing that M.B. was not credible because of his criminal history, which includes convictions of making a false report to the police, identity theft and forgery.
The jury also asked for copies of the “shred memo,” Sarmina said.
Lynn and an assistant compiled a list out of the church’s secret archives of priests accused of sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct. But the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua had ordered copies of the list shredded, The Legal previously reported.
Copies of the list were apparently in a safe that was drilled open in 2006, but the copies were not turned over to law enforcement until this year, just weeks before trial and after the archdiocese hired new counsel, Welsh & Recker, The Legal previously reported.
Lynn’s defense attorney, Thomas A. Bergstrom of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, said he had no objection to “them getting anything they ask for. Period.”
Bergstrom said all of the documents are in evidence and the jury should be able to see them unless there is a rule prohibiting the jury from seeing the documents.
The jury cannot see the interview between Brennan and Jack Rossiter, a retired FBI agent hired by the archdiocese to do investigations into sexual abuse by its priests, because there is a rule barring the jury from seeing anything that could be construed as a confession by a defendant, prosecutor Mark Cipolletti said.
“It’s just one of those things under the rules that can’t go back,” the prosecutor said.
The jury, however, can request to have the document read to them.
One of Brennan’s attorneys, Richard J. Fuschino Jr., objected to the jury receiving time lines developed by the prosecution. Fuschino said that the time lines are “essentially putting the commonwealth’s argument in the deliberation room with the jury,” but prosecutor Patrick Blessington said the purpose of the time lines is to give the jury a clear view of when everything happened and “it has to include something as significant as the search for the list.”
Sarmina ruled in favor of Blessington.