The primary accuser in this week's high-profile criminal abuse trial in Philadelphia has a lengthy criminal record of fraud and deceit, including an alarming episode in which he fabricated an elaborate tale to the police about a violent home robbery that never occurred. Meanwhile, the media is largely ignoring the accuser's background and is continuing instead to uncritically trumpet the prosecution's salacious allegations of abuse.
In 2005, Mark Bukowski came forward with the shocking charge that Rev. James Brennan had raped him nine years earlier, in 1996, when Bukowski was reportedly 14 years old. Since that time, the media has breathlessly reported Bukowski's allegations with scant interest in the accuser's background. (Note: Bukowski has allowed his name to be made public – it's in the grand jury report – although media outlets have chosen not to reveal it.)
Meanwhile, Bukowski has committed multiple and serious crimes in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, that date both before and after the 2005 rape accusation against Fr. Brennan that call into question Bukowski's veracity. Bukowski's Bucks County rap sheet reveals a long list of his crimes:
- deserting the military
- multiple forgeries
- multiple thefts
- fictitious reports
- unauthorized use of another's credit card
- receiving stolen property
- identity theft
- "driving under the influence / controlled substance / 2nd offense"
Here are Bukowski's records from the Bucks County inmate database:
|Case #||Offense Date||Code||Description||Grade|
|Case #||Offense Date||Code||Description||Grade||Degree|
|Case #||Offense Date||Code||Description|
|2005001625||01/25/2006||183921A||THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING-MOVABLE PROPERTY|
|2006000954||01/31/2006||184101A2||FORGERY-UNAUTHORIZED ACT IN WRITING|
|Case #||Offense Date||Code||Description|
|CP-09-CR-0006689-2010||01/18/2011||753802D||DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE-CONTR SUBST/2ND OFFENSE|
|CP-09-CR-0000580-2011||01/19/2011||184101A2||FORGERY-UNAUTHORIZED ACT IN WRITING|
|CP-09-CR-0000580-2011||01/19/2011||184106A1II||USE CR CARD W/O AUTHOR|
|CP-09-CR-0000580-2011||01/19/2011||183921A||THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING-MOVABLE PROPERTY|
|CP-09-CR-0000580-2011||01/19/2011||183925||RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY|
Of particular note, Bukowski committed the crime of "fictitious reports" in 2005, the very same year that he also accused Fr. Brennan of abusing him.
"An event that never occurred"
What was Bukowski's "fictitious report"? With extensive detail, Bukowski described to the police how he had been the victim of a violent home robbery, yet he later admitted that he had made the whole thing up. If it were not for an alert and suspicious police detective, Bukowski may have gotten away with his scam.
In a March 2011 episode that was scarcely reported, Fr. Brennan and his then-attorney, Richard L. DeSipio, appeared for a radio interview in Philadelphia. Near the end of the interview, Mr. DeSipio described Bukowski's elaborate falsehood and the copious details in his phony story:
"What this accuser did [in 2005], the same year that he accuses Father Brennan, he calls the police, has a detective come over to his house – I have the police report that I brought here with me – where he reports an event that never occurred. He doesn't just say, in general, a crime occurred. He says it was a home invasion, a violent assault, and a theft: That while watching television he was confronted by two men who broke into his home; that one of the subjects assaulted him with an unknown sharp object; that there was a violent struggle that lasted about a minute; that $675 that he received from an employer was stolen, a DVD, prescription medicines, and a wristwatch. He showed the police several small cuts that he inflicted on himself, that he put there. He showed them a t-shirt, that had no cuts or blood.
"Well, the police investigated. He had no employer, no one they could find. He lied about this entire event. His mother was home at the time that he alleged that this crime happened. Nothing happened.
"He pled guilty …
"It's not just a false report. It's a manipulative, deliberate, self-serving lie. What is going on in 2005 that this accuser makes up detailed stories about other people? What is he trying to get? Well, in 2005, this accuser's family filed bankruptcy. This accuser's father lost his job over in Jersey for political reasons. This accuser went to Father Brennan and another family looking for money and looking for a job. There's your motivation … The grand jury left this out of their report. They took this from the press. It's a public document. They had it … Why didn't the [grand jury] present this?"
In the interview Fr. Brennan asserted that he wants a criminal trial to clear his name.
"I'm not looking for a plea deal, not in any way, shape or form," the priest said over the airwaves.
However, in its coverage over the past year, the media has already presumed Fr. Brennan's guilt. By ignoring Bukowski's criminal background, the media has delivered a lopsided account of the facts and has done a disservice to good journalism. (For example, John P. Martin at the Philadelphia Inquirer, whose stories are often carried nationally, is already very aware of the accuser's extensive criminal past but has refused to reveal this information to his readers.)
[UPDATE (3/28/12): See this post for eye-opening new information! Accuser Bukowski has now reportedly "disavowed" an allegation against Fr. Brennan!]