The five men charged earlier this year in the priest-abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stood with their attorneys yesterday to reject plea offers that would have sent each to prison.
Instead of accepting the plea agreements from Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos, attorneys for the five men told Common Pleas Judge Lillian Ransom that they would fight the charges and file motions in the coming weeks for separate trials and to quash the conspiracy charges.
Monsignor William Lynn, 60, rejected an offer of four to eight years in state prison, his attorney Thomas Bergstrom told the judge. Once the Archdiocese's secretary for clergy under former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Lynn is accused of transferring predator priests to new parishes, thus allowing them to abuse altar boys between 1995 and 2004. He is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy.
The four other defendants - priests William Brennan, 47, and Charles Engelhardt, 64; ex-priest Edward Avery, 68, and ex-Catholic-school teacher Bernard Shero, 48 - each rejected offers of 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison, their attorneys told the judge.
Brennan is charged with conspiracy, rape and multiple related counts based on allegations that he raped a 14-year-old altar boy in 1996. Engelhardt, Avery and Shero are accused of conspiracy, rape and related counts for allegedly assaulting another altar boy from 1998, when the boy was 10 years old, into 2000.
The July 4th holiday, however, won't be so bad for Engelhardt. He'll be spending it at the Shore.
Over the objections of Manos, the judge modified the terms of Engelhardt's bail arrangement to allow him to travel to Sea Isle City to stay at a home owned by his sisters from July 1 to 5.
His attorney, Michael McGovern, had requested the change, arguing that if Engelhardt could travel as far as Pittsburgh and Erie within the state, then why not to Sea Isle?
Manos argued that the court did not know how close the Sea Isle house was to schools or other places that children might be.
Ransom told McGovern that Engelhardt would not be allowed to spend the summer at the Shore, and instead told him to pick a date. McGovern then chose the Independence Day holiday.
Ransom scheduled July 29 for the next hearing, during which she will hear motion arguments from the attorneys.