Priest's attorney: Accuser was jealous

Says mom was cleric's friend

Posted: April 06, 2012

FOR A second day, the lawyer for an Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest battled Thursday with a man who claimed that the priest molested him when he was 14, once suggesting that the accuser concocted the allegation because his mother had been spending so much time with the cleric.

"What better way to get the subject of her attention out of your life than to come up with a story?" said the attorney, William Brennan.

The question came amid a tense cross-examination as the lawyer sought to expose cracks not just in the allegation, but also in the landmark abuse-and-endangerment case against his client, the Rev. James J. Brennan, and a former Archdiocese official, Monsignor William J. Lynn.

As he did when the interrogation started a day earlier, the witness pushed back.

In tones alternately angry and exasperated, the 30-year-old Bucks County man called the lawyer's reasoning "pathetic" and unprofessional. He accused William Brennan of quibbling over irrelevant details, and insisted that he has never wavered on the ones that matter - that Rev. Brennan forced him into bed, wrapped his arms around him and tried to rape him.

"None of that has changed and it never will change - and it will be with me until the day I die because it's true," he said. Pointing to the priest, he added: "That man molested me and he knows it. He knows it. He knows it. He knows it."

The testimony was among the most significant since the trial began March 26. His claim, one of just two against priests that were reported within the statute of limitations, became a pillar of the most recent grand-jury investigation into how the Archdiocese handled clergy sex-abuse cases.

Prosecutors say that Lynn, the secretary for clergy who investigated priest misconduct from 1992 to 2004, enabled abuse by failing to act against priests, including Brennan, who he suspected or knew would assault children.

On Wednesday, under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti, the man said that the abuse plunged him into a decade of addiction, crime and mental-health trauma. He tried to kill himself three times, he said.

His cross-examination had abruptly ended Wednesday afternoon when the witness, his voice cracking, told Judge M. Teresa Sarmina that he was too tired and upset to continue.

Later Thursday, a 42-year-old Montgomery County native testified that he was molested by his parish priest, the Rev. Francis Trauger, in the early 1980s.

A one-time altar boy at St. Titus Church, in East Norriton, the man testified that he was 12 when Trauger took him to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to play basketball but ended up fondling him in the showers.

Months later, he said, the priest took him to the Poconos and abused him for hours. Trauger has since been defrocked.

Now a police detective, the witness told jurors that early in his career he investigated child-sex crimes.

"One of the reasons it was difficult when you were talking to the kids was [that] not everyone believed them," he said, choking up. "And it was difficult to see that."


Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 215-854-4774 or at jmartin@phillynews.com. Follow him @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

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