By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has decided to retry James J. Brennan, the former priest who was tried along with Monsignor William J. Lynn in the nation’s first trial of a Catholic Church official on allegations of not using his authority to keep children from harm from sexual abuse by priests.
Though the jury convicted Lynn of endangering the welfare of a child who was sexually abused by former priest Edward V. Avery, the jury was hung on whether Brennan had attempted to rape a teenager and endangered the welfare of that teenager and other youths.
Brennan’s attorney, William Brennan, said that four veteran prosecutors had their best shot and could not make out the charges. William Brennan also said that defending his client, when not tied in with reams of evidence about dozens of other priests accused of sexual abuse, would be easier.
“I should have to fight the fight leveled at my client,” William Brennan said.
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who presided over Lynn’s trial, will not hear James Brennan’s retrial.
“James Brennan used his position as a priest to prey upon and victimize this young man,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement. “It is extremely important that Brennan be held accountable for his crime, not just for his victim but for all victims of sexual abuse.”
Lynn is slated to be sentenced Tuesday.