By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
As jurors in the Philadelphia priest sex-abuse trial undertook a half-day of deliberations, they asked three questions.
They wanted to know if endangering behavior regarding the welfare of children has to be criminal; if a defendant must know if his or her behavior was a crime; and if they could have the testimony of Monsignor Kevin M. Quirk read back to them.
Quirk, a West Virginia judicial vicar who was ordered by a West Virginia judge to comply with a subpoena for his testimony in the sex-abuse trial, was the presiding judge of defendant James Brennan's 2008 canonical trial for allegations that Brennan abused a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Quirk was called to the stand to read into evidence his questioning of Brennan at the canonical trial.
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said that endangering behavior does not have to be criminal, but it could be; a defendant does not have to know if his or her behavior was a crime; and that Quirk’s testimony could not be sent back to the jurors under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. Then the jury asked for Quirk’s testimony to be read back to them.
While the jury has usually quit for the day by around 4:30 p.m., the read-back of Quirk’s testimony pushed past that time slot.
Monsignor William J. Lynn is accused of endangering the welfare of two men who testified they were respectively abused by 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 Brennan and Lynn of a conspiracy charge levied against both of them.
Brennan is accused of the attempted rape and endangering the welfare of M.B. The Legal is not naming the alleged victims.