Reporting priest's porn got her axed, jury told

Posted: April 10, 2012

A CATHOLIC sister testified Monday that she was fired from her religious-school job in a Pottstown-area parish after questioning why a priest had received porn in the mail.

The priest - the Rev. Edward M. DePaoli - had been arrested on child-pornography charges in 1985 and convicted and sentenced to probation.

But in 1995, Sister Joan Scary - then in her sixth year as director of religious education at St. Gabriel's parish in Stowe, Montgomery County - was unaware of the details of DePaoli's past.

What she did know, Scary told a Common Pleas jury, was that DePaoli's recent assignment at St. Gabriel's was ambiguous and that St. Gabriel's pastor, the Rev. James Gormley, warned that if she talked about DePaoli, "I could pack my bags and leave."

Scary testified Monday as Philadelphia prosecutors began the third week of their trial of a church official and a priest in the clergy sex-abuse case involving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Monsignor William J. Lynn is accused of enabling or covering up sexual abuse of minors by priests by transferring them to other parishes around the Archdiocese. Lynn's co-defendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan, is charged with attempting to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Both have denied the allegations.

Like some other witnesses, Scary did not implicate either Lynn or Brennan in her testimony. Instead, Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Coelho questioned her to build a record that prosecutors say will show a pattern in which Lynn and archdiocesan officials showed concern for abusive priests but not their victims.

Scary said DePaoli's assignment to St. Gabriel's parish seemed unusual because "he didn't really have duties . . . He didn't do anything other than just be there."

Scary said she saw DePaoli hear confessions only twice and celebrate one Mass - when a blizzard made it impossible for the other priests to get to the church.

A few months after DePaoli arrived at the rural parish, Scary testified, she began noticing mail for him being delivered to her address at a parish building rather than at the rectory where he lived.

The mail was addressed to him without his clerical title, Scary said. Some of it was from Denmark and contained computer disks, and other magazines had sexually graphic content, she said.

In 1996, Scary said, she put one of the magazines in an envelope addressed to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, then archbishop of Philadelphia. She said that she included an anonymous note that read: "Is that anything that a Catholic priest should be getting?"

On May 30, 1996, Scary testified, Gormley angrily confronted her and reminded her of his earlier warning about "spreading rumors about Father DePaoli . . . He told me to get the hell out of here."

DePaoli was defrocked by the church in 2005, the same year the District Attorney's Office made public its first grand-jury investigation of clergy sexual abuse.


Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@ phillynews.com, or @joeslobo

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