Inasmuch as Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has been engaged in a years-long, Moby Dick-like obsession to throw innocent Catholic priests in prison, there was a sense of poetic justice when federal prosecutors indicted Williams last week on numerous charges of using his influence in exchange for opulent gifts, trips, and cash.
According to the indictment, Williams "solicited, accepted, and agreed to accept" gifts including round-trip trips to the Dominican Republic, Las Vegas, California, and Florida; Luis Vuitton clothing; a Jaguar XK8 convertible; thousands in cash, and more. And if this were not enough, Williams also stole money from his own adoptive mother.
Back in 2011, Williams orchestrated a grand jury to issue a report which made international headlines with its claims that numerous priests from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia committed sex abuse. Years later, however, we now know that Williams' grand jury report was completely bogus, and it destroyed the lives of numerous innocent men.
Msgr. William Lynn was imprisoned on the claims that he somehow "endangered the welfare of a child" whom he not only did not even know. His wrongful conviction has been overturned by appellate courts multiple times, and a judge finally ruled last Friday that Lynn was entitled to a new trial after Williams' office admittedly withheld evidence that could have exonerated Lynn.In addition, Rev. Charles Engelhardt, former teacher Bernard Shero, and former priest Edward Avery were convicted for crimes which certainly never happened. In fact, as veteran journalist Ralph Cipriano has exclusively reported, detectives at Williams' office knew that the accuser, career criminal Danny Gallagher, was telling wild and varying stories. And when Detective Joseph Walsh confronted Assistant D.A. Mariana Sorensen with his problems about Gallagher, she retorted, "You're killing my case."
In other words, the fix was in from the start. (By the way, this was something we observed six years ago – even before a jury was seated.)
The injustice that these men suffered was so outrageous that Cipriano's story even made the cover of Newsweek magazine.
And then there was Rev. James Brennan, who was accused of abuse from 20 years ago by Mark Bukowski, a serial criminal with a lengthy rap sheet which includes fraud and making up stories to the police. Brennan would be a free man today except for one boob on the jury in his trial who refused to acquit him, and the jury deadlocked 11-1. Last October, rather than risk facing a wrong conviction like his peers and face possible decades in jail for a crime he didn't commit, Brennan pleaded guilty to a measly second degree misdemeanor of simple assault.
In effect, Brennan's plea was an admission by Williams that Brennan was wholly innocent.
Now, as Cipiano reports, Williams himself is flat broke and needs a lawyer.
[We would like to recommend to readers a new article by Ryan A. MacDonald over at TheseStoneWalls.com, "How SNAP Brought McCarthyism to American Catholics." Check it out.]