February 11, 2011 / 12:56 AM / 7 years ago

Philadelphia area priests, abuse investigator face charges

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Two priests, a former priest and a teacher face charges for allegedly assaulting two boys, and a monsignor supposedly investigating the abuses was charged with failing to protect the victims, Philadelphia prosecutors said on Thursday.

The charges follow a second Philadelphia grand jury investigation into allegations of sexual abuse within the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The first investigation concluded six years ago.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said the grand jury found that victims had been led to believe statements to the Archdiocese were confidential and had been pressed to release psychiatric and other records.

“Even more troubling, the grand jury believed that many priests -- dozens of them -- have remained in ministry despite solid, credible allegations of abuse,” Williams said.

“It is time for the church to remove all credibly accused priests from ministry, and to put protection of children ahead of protection from scandal,” Williams said.

Charges were filed against Edward Avery, 68, a priest defrocked in 2006, and Father Charles Engelhardt, 64, for assaulting the same boy in 1998 and 1999 at St. Jerome Parish, prosecutors said. Teacher Bernard Sheol, 48, was also charged with assaulting the boy there in 2000.

Father James Brennan, 47, was accused of assaulting a 34-year-old boy in 1996 while he was on leave from a Catholic high school, prosecutors said.

The four face maximum terms of 67 years in prison if convicted on all of the charges against them.

Monsignor William Lynn, who was responsible within the Philadelphia Archdiocese for investigating sex abuse claims from 1992 to 2004, was charged with child endangerment and would face 14 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

“He had all the information he needed to protect them,” Williams said of Lynn. “Instead, he lied to parishioners and went out of his way to put known abusers into contact with adolescents, resulting in assaults against at least two more young boys.”

Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McClure

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