In an all too familiar scenario, a man is alleging that the Roman Catholic church is responsible for demonstrating significant “callous indifference” on behalf of his suffering as a 10-year-old boy. More specifically, a civil suit was filed this week by a man identified as “Billy”, who is claiming that the Philadelphia archdiocese allowed two priests and a teacher to serially rape him while attending their Parish.
Amidst the festering scrutiny that is currently plaguing the Roman Catholic church in Philadelphia, a ground breaking criminal case threatens to further tarnish their already diminished status. Prosecutors representing the man, known only to the public as “Billy”, have pursued litigation in an attempt to blame the archdiocese for allowing “a trio of pedophiles” to serially rape their plaintiff.
Accusations date back to 1999, when “Billy” was just 10 years old. It was this year that he alleges the Rev. Charles Engelhardt forced him to engage in oral sex acts in a church sacristy. According to the recent civil suit charges, only weeks had passed before the Rev. Edward Avery committed atrocities of his own against the plaintiff. Prosecutors have accused Rev. Avery of preforming oral sex and digital penetration against their clients will after bell choir. In the wake of these allegations, prosecutors learned that Avery had been sent to live at St. Jerome, despite a 1992 stint at a treatment center that witnessed Avery commit earlier acts of sexual-abuse. This transfer was carried out by former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.
The civil suit alleges that “the callous indifference manifested by Bevilacqua to the safety and well-being of children left in the care and custody of the Archdiocese was a function of their paramount desire to protect the Church, even at the expense of innocent children, who were ravaged, molested, and abused.”
Despite these alleged acts of clergy sexual abuse, similar scenarios persisted into the following year. According to details from the civil and criminal complaints, the plaintiff was just 11 years old when he was sexually abused in 2000. His sixth-grade teacher at the time, Bernard Shero, is accused of orally and anally raping him during a car ride, only to force him out of the vehicle and walk home.
As a result, the victim turned to marijuana, painkillers and heroin to escape the brutal reality that he had experienced while attending St. Jerome Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. “Billy” has since been hospitalized 10 times for drug and mental-health treatment after he had become withdrawn and sullen after the childhood assaults.
As it stands, the grand jury has filed rape charges against Engelhardt, Avery and Shero. Accordingly, the civil suit accuses Bevilacqua and the archdiocese with negligence and recklessness, while also accusing the alleged rapists of battery. The suit seeks at least $450,000 in damages from the archdiocese and other defendants.
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