Philly church mum on priest until donor complained
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Documents from a clergy-abuse trial show Catholic church officials ignored complaints a Philadelphia priest had molested two boys until they heard he was also running a travel business — and competing with a big donor.
The documents involving defrocked priest Michael McCarthy come as the prosecution details how the archdiocese handled abuse complaints against about 20 priests. They were never charged with crimes because authorities didn't know about the complaints — kept in secret, locked archives at the archdiocese — for years.
Monsignor William Lynn is on trial, charged with child endangerment and conspiracy for allegedly helping the church hide hundreds of abuse complaints as secretary for clergy. Lynn has pleaded not guilty.
The 75-year-old McCarthy now lives at a beach house in Margate, N.J., where one accuser said he and others were abused. McCarthy, in a brief phone call Tuesday with The Associated Press, denied the allegations.
The accuser told the archdiocese in 1991 that McCarthy — who spent 20 years at Cardinal O'Hara High School — had plied him with liquor, removed his underwear while wrestling and fondled him in bed. He feared retribution for the complaint.
Lynn was an understudy at the time to Monsignor James Molloy, and would succeed him the next year as secretary for clergy. Lynn's memo of the meeting states that Molloy assured the accuser McCarthy was unlikely to retaliate, based on past cases. A mother had filed an earlier complaint against McCarthy in 1983.
"Unnecessary statement. Never admit to a victim that there have been other cases," reads a note in the margin, which a detective attributed to Molloy's handwriting.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua promoted McCarthy the next year to lead a parish in Norristown. Before long, a travel agent whose husband had donated $25,000 to the archdiocese complained about McCarthy running a travel business that had robbed her of parish bookings.
And priests were complaining about McCarthy's temperament, and about sexually-charged speech, underwear catalogs that came in the mail and gay pornography found in his bedroom. While McCarthy was away, a raid of sorts turned up pornography and a homoerotic poster on his wall.
McCarthy was sent for a psychiatric evaluation, and deemed a "homosexual ephebophile," someone attracted to adolescent boys. He was put on a "health leave," where he remained until he was defrocked in 2006. He spent some of that time working the graveyard shift as a cashier at an Atlantic City casino, according to one letter he sent Bevilacqua.
On cross-examination, a lawyer for Lynn noted that McCarthy underwent a psychiatric evaluation in June 1992 — the very month Lynn became secretary for clergy. And he last worked at a parish in 1993, defense lawyer Jeffrey Lindy noted, even if he was still allowed to say the occasional Mass for family celebrations.
Lynn remains the only official of the archdiocese charged in the case. Molloy died in 1996, and Bevilacqua this year. Prosecutors could wrap up their two-month presentation this week. Jurors are expected to get the case before Memorial Day.