By Kenneth Lipp and Dustin Slaughter
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the defense team completed their opening statements in the case against Bernard Shero, lay teacher, and Father Charles Engelhardt, accused of sexually abusing a minor in two separate incidents between 1998 and 2000.
Father Engelhardt’s defense attorney, Michael McGovern, is focusing on the plaintiff’s inconsistent statements alleging abuse. During his opening statement, Burton Rose, the attorney for Bernard Shero, the lay teacher accused of raping “Billy” (we are withholding the victim’s name at this time), also highlighted the various versions of events given by the accuser. Rose alleges that Mr. Shero left St. Jerome’s, where he was the victim’s 6th grade homeroom teacher, because of bullying by students, and not because of his alleged guilt.
Both the prosecution and the defense noted Shero’s suicide attempt shortly after his arrest.
The prosecution characterizes the victim’s inconsistent statements as the result of drug abuse brought on by psychological damage from alleged assault by Father Engelhardt and Mr. Shero.
Prosecutors have announced their plan to call the victim’s mother this afternoon as their first witness.
We will update after the close of this afternoon’s proceedings.