After two Philadelphia juries failed to reach a verdict in 12 months, the District Attorney's Office announced Friday it would not retry the Rev. Andrew McCormick, a Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy almost 18 years ago in a Bridesburg parish.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp, backed by key members of her office's sex-crimes unit, announced the decision in a brief hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright.
Though she approved the dismissal, Bright told Kemp and defense attorney Trevan Borum she wanted her gag order obeyed until April 13. It bars the lawyers and all involved parties, including McCormick, from commenting on the case.
Kemp and Borum said they would speak after the order is lifted.
The dismissal means an end to the threat of prison for McCormick, 58, a priest since 1982.
But it is also unlikely McCormick will return to a parish any time soon.
McCormick, who was criminally charged in July 2012, had been suspended in March 2011 from Sacred Heart parish, near Bridgeport. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia suspended him and 26 other Catholic priests for possible inappropriate conduct with children.
McCormick now lives near Pottstown in Montgomery County.
At his first trial last year, in which McCormick testified in his defense, it was revealed he had been reprimanded twice for allowing boys in his private rooms.
McCormick also admitted in the first trial that he was among 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, now 27, neither jury seemed able to overcome the lack of evidence corroborating his allegations.
The second trial jury hung on March 11.
McCormick was charged with five counts: involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, child endangerment, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault of a minor under 13.
The alleged victim told of a 1997 incident in McCormick's bedroom in the rectory of St. John Cantius Parish in Bridesburg in which the priest tried to force him to commit a sex act.