Accuser, addict in Pa. clergy-abuse case testifies

Associated Press Modified: April 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm •  Published: April 25, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A young man told a jury in a criminal priest-abuse case Wednesday that he was sexually assaulted as an altar boy by two Philadelphia priests and that he soon turned to drugs for relief.

The witness, a policeman's son, said he started smoking marijuana the summer he turned 11 to deal with the abuse, and has since tried drug treatment 23 times to battle addictions to heroin, painkillers and other drugs.

The 23-year-old testified at the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, a former secretary for clergy at the Philadelphia archdiocese who is charged with child endangerment for helping keep accused priests in ministry.

The witness told jurors that parish priest Edward Avery twice raped him after Mass in 1999, when he was a 10-year-old altar boy.

Jurors weren't told that Avery, Lynn's former co-defendant, has pleaded guilty to the crime. And defense lawyers chose not to cross-examine the accuser, despite vigorous pretrial attacks on his account. The judge had said she might allow Avery's plea to be disclosed if they challenged the man's credibility.

Nor did the jury hear the witness say he had also been raped by his fifth-grade teacher from the parish school, as he alleged in his 2010 grand jury testimony.

One juror fought back tears as the witness described closed-door "sessions" with Avery.

The young man — who has brooding eyes, a buzz cut and closely-cropped facial hair — came to court in a dark suit and tie. Prosecutors earlier showed school photographs of him as a sunny, slightly-built boy in a parochial school uniform and as an altar boy, sporting a floor-length white cassock and gold cross.

The witness said Avery put on church music and made him do a striptease in a small anteroom inside St. Jerome's Church in northeast Philadelphia in 1999, then engaged in mutual oral sex and masturbation. He said he once had to use his shirt to wipe the priest's semen off of him before walking home.

He said he never told anyone until group therapy at a drug treatment program years later.

"I thought I did something wrong — and it's a priest," he testified. "I didn't think anyone would believe me."

He said his 14-year-old brother — who did not know about the alleged abuse — introduced him to marijuana and alcohol at a party that summer. He got high nearly every day for 10 years, he said.

He contacted the archdiocese in 2009. The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they were sexually abused.

Earlier Wednesday, a 49-year-old doctor testified that Avery fondled him in bed when he was 15 and 18. The first time, he was drunk after helping the priest work as a DJ at a city nightclub. The second time, he was sober. They were sharing a bedroom on a ski trip while Avery's brother had the other bedroom. Both times, he pretended to be asleep, and never told anyone.

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