Bevilacqua's hearing postponed, SNAP responds
We’re disappointed in this delay. The boys and girls who were sexually violated because of the actions of Lynn, Bevilacqua, Rigali and other church bureaucrats deserve timely justice.
How can church officials expect us to believe they’re “reforming” when so many of them keep trying to exploit every advantage they possibly can to spare themselves even the slightest inconvenience? How can they posture as “shepherds” and “servants” when they seek to be treated like kings?
If the judge deems Bevilacqua competent to testify, it should be in open court like anyone else in a criminal case. It undermines our justice system when high profile people get special treatment just because of a rarified job title. And it exacerbates the already deep and still fresh wounds of abuse victims and betrayed Catholics when wrongdoers get deferential treatment.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Judge postpones Bevilacqua hearing
By John P. Martin
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A Philadelphia judge Wednesday postponed a hearing to determine whether Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua is competent to testify for the forthcoming trial of one of his top aides charged with covering up child-sex abuse by priests.
The order by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina didn't cite a reason for scrapping Monday's hearing, and didn't indicate if or when it might occur. The next planned hearing on the case is Oct. 7, records show.
If it occurs, the proceeding would mark the first public appearance for the reclusive cardinal since the February arrests of three former and current priests on rape and sex-assault charges, and a scathing grand-jury report that painted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as unresponsive to clergy sex-abuse victims.
The same grand jury investigation led to endangerment and conspiracy charges against one of Bevilacqua's key assistants, Mgsr. William J. Lynn. As secretary of clergy, Lynn was the administrator who fielded abuse allegations and recommended where to place priests after they had been accused or treated for molesting children.
The legal clash over Bevilacqua's testimony started in July when prosecutors, seeking to bolster their conspiracy claim, filed 1,200 pages of transcripts from the cardinal's 2003 and 2004 appearances before the first Philadelphia grand jury to examine clergy sex abuse.
Lynn's lawyers contended that old testimony should be inadmissible in the current case because they can't cross-examine the 88-year-old cardinal, who officials have said has been diagnosed with cancer and dementia.
So prosecutors asked the judge for the right to question the cardinal anew - and to videotape it in case he's unable to testify during the trial next spring.
Their deposition, which could include cross-examination by attorneys for Lynn and his codefendants, could take days.
Assistant District Attorneys Mark Gilson and Mariana Sorensen also asked for the hearing to take place in open court, arguing that Bevilacqua should be treated as any other witness in a criminal matter.
Still pending is a request by Bevilacqua's attorney that he be spared from testifying at all - or that he be allowed to do so in private, at his residence on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
Lawyer Brian J. McMonagle contends that prelate is too sick to testify, and that prosecutors are trying to make him "walk the gauntlet" by coming to the courthouse under a wide media spotlight. Bevilacqua retired in 2003, after 15 years as the leader of the 1.5-million member archdiocese.
A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's office deferred all questions on the matter Wednesday to the judge. McMonagle couldn't be reached for comment.
Under a gag order imposed by Sarmina, the prosecutors, defense lawyers and defendants are barred from speaking publicly about the case.