By Kenneth Lipp
Among the first stories covered by the Declaration was the sex abuse trial of Father Charles Engelhardt and teacher Bernard Shero, convicted in January of 2013 largely by the testimony of one “Billy Doe,” the Commonwealth’s key witness in not only the Engelhardt-Shero prosecution but in the much higher-profile case against Monsignor William Lynn and Father Edward Avery. Ralph Cipriano, who reported from the courtroom in January 2013, and has covered the Philadelphia Archdiocese sex abuse scandal since memos were discovered in 2005 detailing how the Monsignor Lynn and the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua hid abuse allegations and protected clergy against whom they were made, reports that Father Engelhardt and Mr. Shero have asked for a new trial, and that the circumstances are being kept under judicial-wraps at the request of the District Attorney’s Office.
From the National Catholic Review:
Claiming prosecutorial misconduct, defense lawyers are seeking a new trial in Pennsylvania Superior Court. In their latest filings, they charge that prosecutors violated Brady v. Maryland, a landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says prosecutors can’t withhold “exculpatory evidence” that could clear a defendant.
In a strange twist that confounds legal experts, the court ordered the filings to be sealed.
The charge of prosecutorial misconduct is in an application to amend the appellant brief filed July 9 in Pennsylvania Superior Court by Burton A. Rose, a lawyer for former teacher Bernard Shero. Michael J. McGovern, who is also seeking a new trial for his client Fr. Charles Engelhardt, filed the same application to amend on July 10.
The same day, the district attorney’s office asked the court to seal the records in the cases. On July 29, the dockets in both cases recorded that the seal was granted, but no reason was stated regarding why.
This latest development in the decade-long investigation and prosecution of sex abuse within the Philadelphia Archdiocese threatens to sully District Attorney Seth Williams’ “historic” prosecution further, now that the “monumental verdict” against Monsignor Lynn has been overturned.