A former Catholic priest who was defrocked in 2017 amid allegations that he had sexually molested young boys for years while the church moved him from parish to parish was sentenced Thursday to five years’ probation for lying to the FBI.

Robert Brennan, 84, must spend the first 24 months of his sentence on home detention wearing an ankle monitor, U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody said.

Brennan admitted he lied to investigators in 2019 when they questioned him about a young man who had accused him of sexual abuse.

Sean McIlmail told authorities the priest assaulted him beginning in 1998, when he was a middle-school student at Resurrection of Our Lord School in Rhawnhurst, and continuing until 2001. Those allegations led to criminal charges in 2013, but a month later, McIlmail died of a drug overdose at age 26 and the case could not go forward.

Brennan, who had earlier been accused by a Philadelphia grand jury of molesting at least 20 boys, was laicized and barred from ministry five years ago. He was not prosecuted for any of those alleged crimes because the statute of limitations had expired. Only McIlmail’s allegations were recent enough to give rise to criminal charges.

When that case ended with his death, McIlmail’s parents filed a civil suit against Brennan and the church, saying the abuse had contributed to their son’s death. The case settled out of court in 2018.

The following year, as federal authorities conducted an investigation of sexual abuse by priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and interviewed Brennan, FBI agents visited the former priest at his Perryville, Md., home and asked him about McIlmail.

Even when shown a picture of himself with the boy, Brennan told the agents he had no recollection of McIlmail, his parents, Michael and Debbie, or his brother, Michael Patrick.

That statement, which he later admitted was false, gave rise to the federal charges against him.

On Thursday, Brennan was defiant in court. When the judge asked whether he wanted to speak, the former priest quoted the prophet Isaiah and said: ”False accusations and malicious speech should be removed from our midst.”

During the hearing, Debbie McIImail told Brennan that his actions had challenged her faith and caused her “considerable emotional pain and sadness.”

Outside the courtroom, she and her husband said they were angry that Brennan did not apologize, and that his punishment was probation, not prison.

“My son’s dead. He’s not coming back,” said Michael McIlmail. “... I would expect some time in prison.”

Marci Hamilton, CEO of Child USA, a Philadelphia-based think tank for child protection who accompanied the McIlmails to court, said the church had covered up Brennan’s crimes and thwarted justice. “So long as the bishops continue to block and fight statute of limitation reform in this state we’re just going to continue to see the same,” said Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor of politics.

To honor Sean’s memory, his parents said they have been working with Hamilton to protect children and change laws. They established the Sean P. McIImail Statute of Limitations Research Institute at Child USA, which is active in 28 states and has helped to introduce three bills in Congress, Hamilton said. “Justice is happening every day and opening opportunity because of Debbie and Mike,” she said.

Earlier, in the courtroom, Debbie McIlmail referenced that work as she addressed the former priest.

“While Sean is not physically here in this courtroom today, Mr. Brennan, be assured his presence is clearly felt by his family and all those whose lives he has impacted,” she said. “Sean’s voice will never be silenced.”