For the second time in 12 months, a Philadelphia jury was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy almost 18 years ago in a Bridesburg parish.
The Common Pleas Court jury of 10 women and two men hearing the trial of the Rev. Andrew McCormick, 58, announced Wednesday that it was hung. The mistrial came one day shy of a year since the last mistrial.
McCormick's face reddened as he heard the foreman respond "no verdict" to each of the five counts against him: involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, child endangerment, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault of a minor under 13.
But afterward, the priest of 33 years seemed upbeat, wishing court staff a happy Easter as he signed a subpoena to appear at an April 10 hearing. That is the date by which the District Attorney's Office must decide if it will try McCormick a third time.
Until then, Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright refused to lift the gag order barring Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp and defense attorney Trevan Borum and the principals and witnesses from speaking to reporters.
Borum was overheard in court telling McCormick he intended to file a motion in Superior Court. Although Borum did not elaborate on his comment, it likely involves trying to bar a third trial.
He declined to comment, citing the gag order: "When it's filed, it will be public record."
The jury began deliberating late Friday after five days of testimony but told the judge Tuesday that it was at an impasse.
On Wednesday, the jury deliberated all morning and, after lunch, listened to a reading of the testimony of the victim, now 27, about the alleged 1997 assault in McCormick's bedroom in the rectory of St. John Cantius church. Two hours later, however, the jury sent out a note saying it was hopelessly deadlocked.
Ordained in 1982, McCormick was pastor of Sacred Heart parish near Bridgeport when he and 26 other Catholic priests were suspended in March 2011 by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for possible inappropriate conduct with children. The case at trial was not part of the archdiocesan investigation.
This time, McCormick did not testify in his defense. That prevented him from denying the allegations, as he did the first time.
But it also prevented the prosecution from questioning McCormick - as it did in the first trial - about his two church reprimands for allowing boys into his private rooms.
McCormick also admitted in the first trial that he was among priests investigated in 2004 by a Philadelphia grand jury for questionable conduct with minors.
Both trials were well-attended by advocates on both sides.
McCormick had a loyal group of former parishioners - including two nuns - who attended daily and prayed with him in the hallway outside the courtroom during breaks.
The victim and his extended family were also in court with others involved in publicizing the problem of sexual abuse of minors by archdiocesan priests.