Twice, the Rev. Andrew McCormick went to trial in Philadelphia for allegedly sexually assaulting an altar boy almost 18 years ago in a Bridesburg parish.
Twice, Common Pleas Court juries failed to reach a verdict.
Now, three months after the District Attorney's Office announced it would not retry McCormick and withdrew the charges, the now-27-year-old former altar boy has sued McCormick and the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The lawsuit under the pseudonym John Doe was filed July 10 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for emotional and other injuries sustained by the alleged victim.
Trevan Borum, the Center City lawyer who defended McCormick in his last criminal trial, which ended with a hung jury on April 10, on Wednesday denounced the lawsuit.
Borum noted that at trial Doe testified "he wasn't interested in filing a civil suit, that he only came forward to protect other children."
Borum called this a "bold-faced lie" and criticized Doe and Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp for arguing thus to the jury to show that Doe "had no motive to fabricate his testimony."
Borum said he will meet Thursday with McCormick and expects to be hired to defend him in the lawsuit.
The archdiocese declined to comment Wednesday. Kemp could not be reached.
Brian D. Kent, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said Doe's motive for the suit remains the same: to ensure McCormick and church officials are held accountable and "that this doesn't happen to any other children."
"The reality of the situation is that Father McCormick abused at least one child and two criminal juries could not reach a verdict," Kent said. "In terms of holding McCormick responsible, his only recourse is a civil lawsuit. He hasn't had that justice yet."
McCormick, 59, a priest since 1982, was criminally charged in the Doe case in July 2012. By then, however, the then-pastor of Sacred Heart parish near Bridgeport had already been forbidden to publicly practice his clerical duties: In March 2011, the archdiocese suspended McCormick and 26 other priests for possible inappropriate conduct with children.
At his first trial last year, in which McCormick testified in his defense, it was revealed that he had been twice reprimanded for allowing boys in his private rooms, and that he was one of the priests investigated in 2004 by a Philadelphia County grand jury for questionable conduct with minors.
Though the judge instructed both juries they could legally return a guilty verdict based solely on the testimony of the alleged victim, neither jury seemed able to overcome the lack of corroborating evidence.
That hurdle could be easier to overcome in a civil case where a verdict depends on a "preponderance of evidence" - more likely than not - rather than the tougher "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard used in a criminal trial.
The former altar boy told about a 1997 incident in McCormick's bedroom in the rectory of the St. John Cantius church in Bridesburg in which he alleged the priest tried to force him to commit a sex act.