A Philadelphia judge Tuesday reinstated three felony charges against a Catholic priest who is accused of forcing oral sex on a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997.

Father Andrew McCormick sat stoically at the defense table as Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick held him for trial after a brief hearing on involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault and statutory sexual assault.

Those charges were dismissed by Municipal Judge Karen Y. Simmons following an August preliminary hearing, during which the now-24-year-old alleged victim testified that McCormick, 56, straddled him and put his penis on the victim's lips and on his teeth.

The alleged incident took place in the rectory of St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg, where McCormick was a priest and the young man was an altar boy.

Simmons, in August, did hold McCormick for trial on the misdemeanor charges of indecent assault, corrupting the morals of a minor and endangering the welfare of a child.

Assistant District Attorney Jack O'Neill praised the former altar boy for reporting McCormick and Judge Patrick for reinstating the most serious charges against him.

"This was an extremely clear law. The judge looked at the law, looked at the testimony and applied the law. Most of all, we're just grateful the victim was courageous to come forward," he said after the hearing. "Now, this case is moving forward as it should."

Defense attorney William J. Brennan said the fact that the District Attorney's Office needed a second preliminary hearing to have his client held on the felony charges may indicate they'll have trouble proving their claims at a trial where the burden of proof is much higher.

"If the commonwealth is on the ropes in round one, perhaps they should reconsider this prosecution," Brennan said.

McCormick, as he did at his August hearing, wore his black priest uniform with its white cleric collar.

The Swedesburg, Montgomery County, man was ordained to the priesthood in 1982. He last worked at the Sacred Heart Parish in Swedesburg before being put on leave in March 2011 by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

McCormick is free on bail.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at deanm@phillynews.com or 215-568-8278. Follow him on Twitter @MensahDean.

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