Sarmina handled the three-month trial, which ended in June with the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first church official charged for his supervisory role in dealing with priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Sarmina had carved out two more weeks for the trial of ex-priest Charles Engelhardt and teacher Bernard Shero. But Sarmina said she has back-to-back murder trials through the rest of the year and the new delay made it impossible for her to continue presiding in the now-delayed second trial.
Sarmina's courtroom was set up for the start of jury selection when court officers announced that Engelhardt's attorney, Michael J. McGovern, had two deaths in his family in the last few days: a sister-in-law in Florida and an uncle in Philadelphia.
The new judge and trial date are not known; the case will be sent to what is known as a "calendar room" for reassignment.
Engelhardt, 65, and Shero, 49, are charged with rape, sexual assault and related charges in the alleged abuse of a 10-year-old altar boy called "Billy Doe" by prosecutors.
The Inquirer has a policy of not identifying victims of sexual assault.
The assaults allegedly occurred in 1998 and 1999 at St. Jerome's parish in Northeast Philadelphia. Engelhardt, a hospital chaplain, then lived in the rectory and Shero taught sixth grade in the parish school.
Engelhardt and Shero were originally charged in 2011 with Lynn, Edward Avery, and the Rev. James J. Brennan.
Sarmina later agreed to sever Engelhardt's and Shero's cases because neither was under the direct supervision of Lynn - secretary of clergy - or other church officials. Engelhardt was a priest in Philadelphia under the authority of an independent order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
Avery, 69, pleaded guilty in March to sexually assaulting Billy in 1999 and was immediately sentenced to 21/2 to five years in prison.
Lynn, 61, who from 1992 to 2004 was responsible for investigating allegations against priests, was convicted of a charge of child endangerment involving Avery's offenses. Found found guilty in June, Lynn is serving a three- to six-year prison term.
Brennan, 49, will be retried March 6 in the attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Brennan was tried with Lynn but the jury was unable to reach a verdict in his case and a mistrial was declared.
Engelhardt and Shero remain free on bail pending their trial.
Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, email@example.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.
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