Skip to main content

Philly priest accused of raping altar boy

By Ross Levitt, CNN
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Fri September 27, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • DA: Robert Brennan was investigated before
  • He was not charged in that case due to statute of limitations, DA says
  • The archdiocese cooperated in the case, DA says

(CNN) -- A Philadelphia priest who narrowly escaped prosecution during a recent clergy abuse scandal that rocked the city's archdiocese has been arrested on charges that include raping an altar boy.

In a grand jury presentation in 2005, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office revealed allegations against Father Robert Brennan, now 75, that included more than 20 alleged child sex abuse victims, according to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

All of the cases were beyond the statute of limitations, and Brennan was never charged in that case, Williams said at a press conference Thursday.

That investigation led to the June 2012 child endangerment conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, the vicar of clergy for the diocese. The conviction marked the first time a U.S. church leader has been convicted of such a crime.

Police: Pennsylvania priest caught with pantless 15-year-old

Williams said that Lynn would've faced additional charges in connection with this case but that he avoided prosecution by three months due to the statute of limitations.

Robert Brennan, a Catholic priest, has been arrested on charges that include raping an altar boy.
Robert Brennan, a Catholic priest, has been arrested on charges that include raping an altar boy.

In this new case, Brennan is charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and aggravated indecent assault in connection with alleged incidents that took place between 1998 and 2001 when the victim was 11 to 14 years old, according to Williams.

The allegations include digital penetration and oral sex.

He was arrested on September 25 in Maryland, according to a statement released by Williams' office.

"A serial abuser is now behind bars thanks to the brave actions of this young man," Williams said, adding that the young man was prompted to report the alleged abuse in the wake of Lynn's conviction.

Marci Hamilton represents the victim, now 26 years old, and two other alleged victims whose cases could not be prosecuted because they were beyond the statute of limitations.

The archdiocese stripped Brennan of most of his duties in September 2005, though he remained a priest.

The diocese said in a statement that Brennan's laicization is in progress with the Holy See, but did not provide a date when that process began or when Brennan would be formally defrocked.

The diocese says it has "cooperated fully" with the current investigation.

Williams commended the diocese for promptly reporting these most recent allegations.

According to a statement released by Williams' office, the victim reported the abuse to the diocese in January 2013 and it was immediately brought to the attention of authorities.

"It takes tremendous courage for any sexual assault victim to come forward and report the horrors he or she endured," the district attorney said.

Ex-pope breaks silence, denies cover-up

Leigh Remizowski contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:58 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT