Former Archdiocese of Philadelphia Catholic High School Theater Director Sentenced, SNAP Supports the Survivor
Former Archbishop Carroll High School theater director, Christopher Serpentine, was sentenced to three years of sex offender probation last week after pleading guilty to one count of intercourse or sexual contact with a female student, a third-degree felony. He entered the guilty plea prior to the start of his trial. Serpentine was charged in June 2019 with four counts of engaging in a sexual relationship with a student during the victim’s senior year in 2017. He had been employed at the Catholic school since 2014 and was previously an adjunct professor of theater at Delaware County Community College. Serpentine will be a registered sex offender under Megan’s Law for 25 years.
We fully support the female survivor in this case and are glad she did not have to endure a trial. We especially applaud her bravery in providing a powerful victim impact statement that described in detail the grooming patterns of her perpetrator, which were begun long before any physical crime. While the student may have been an adult at the time of her abuse, Serpentine was in a position of power and authority. In situations like this, the impact on the survivor can be devastating despite the fact that they are not a child. It is our strong belief that criminals like Serpentine should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, along with anyone else who may have seen or suspected such crimes and kept silent. While we are grateful that this man is facing consequences for his reprehensible actions, we are disappointed that the judge did not impose the sentence suggested by the prosecutor, including that he be barred from positions where he would be supervising children in the future.
Statistics tell us that abusers rarely have just one victim. According to his work history, Serpentine has been working with children and young adults for years.It would not surprise us one iota if the former theater director had victimized others during his career. We hope that law enforcement officials look hard at whether any current or former Catholic school staffers may have known about or suspected Serpentine’s crimes.
We urge anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, whether as a child or an adult, whether by a cleric or a layperson, to call the police, expose wrongdoers, protect others, and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)