AFTER A JURY reported that it was hopelessly deadlocked, a judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the retrial of a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997 in the rectory at St. John Cantius Parish in Bridesburg.
It marks the second time that Common Pleas Judge Gwendolyn Bright has declared a mistrial in the case of the Rev. Andrew McCormick. Exactly a year ago, on March 12, 2014, a different jury was deadlocked after 4 1/2 days of deliberations.
Bright said the District Attorney's Office has 30 days to decide whether to try McCormick a third time. She scheduled an April 10 status hearing to see if another retrial would take place.
McCormick, 58, dressed in his black priestly garb and white clerical collar, appeared relieved as he left the courtroom hallway with his supporters, including two nuns.
It was 4 p.m. yesterday when the 10 women and two men of the jury returned to the courtroom and the judge read aloud their note, written at 3:22 p.m., saying they "are unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the charges."
The judge asked the foreman if the panel would benefit from further instruction on the law or from rehearing any of the trial testimony. "No," he replied.
She asked if there were any reasonable chance that the jury could still reach a verdict. Again, the foreman replied: "No."
The judge then declared a mistrial on the charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old, child endangerment and corruption of a minor.
The panel on Tuesday afternoon had indicated that it was at an impasse, but the judge ordered the jury to continue deliberations.
The jury deliberated for three full days - Monday to yesterday - and about an hour late Friday.
The alleged victim, now 27, testified in the retrial that in McCormick's bedroom in the church rectory, the priest undressed him to his boxers, began "rubbing my genitals" and tried to force him to perform oral sex.
The defense contends that the accuser is lying.
The judge has imposed a gag order on Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp, defense attorney Trevan Borum and others involved in the case.