By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
When the jury deliberating for the seventh day on the Philadelphia priest sex-abuse trial asked for the canonical trial testimony of alleged victim M.B., defense attorney William Brennan said the testimony should not be given nor read to the jury.
While Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina agreed with Brennan that a hard copy of the canonical testimony cannot be given to the jury under Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 646, Sarmina disagreed that the testimony, while it was not read into evidence to the jury but was admitted into evidence, could not be read to the jury by a court reporter.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia held a canonical trial regarding the priestly status of defendant James J. Brennan because of M.B.’s allegations of sexual abuse.
William Brennan said that by reading the canonical testimony to the jury “seven days in it gives [M.B.] the chance to reappear, through this beautiful, young court reporter, in this courtroom.”
William Brennan said that he is thinking of this issue as an appellate issue, but Sarmina told him, “Don’t jinx it.”
“It is in evidence,” prosecutor Patrick Blessington argued. “They’re entitled to it.”
Defense lawyer Brennan said that he would not review M.B.’s canonical trial testimony to parse out what might be prejudicial and should be excised out of the concern that he might be boxed in as having given tacit approval of the testimony going to the jury before an appellate court.
The jury had the canonical trial proceedings regarding defendant Brennan’s testimony read back to them for more than two hours Tuesday. M.B.’s canonical trial testimony is set to be read to the jury this afternoon.
William Brennan also expressed impatience with the pace of deliberations, telling the judge that “sometimes you have to say to them in your black robe: ‘Do your job.’”
Monsignor William J. Lynn is accused of endangering the welfare of two men who testified they were respectively abused by James Brennan, who is maintaining his innocence, or former priest Edward V. Avery, who pled guilty to the abuse.
Lynn also is accused of conspiring with Avery to endanger the welfare of D.G. and other unnamed youths. Sarmina acquitted James Brennan and Lynn of a conspiracy charge levied against both of them.
James Brennan is accused of the attempted rape and endangering the welfare of M.B. The Legal is not naming the alleged victims.