The Philadelphia Abuse Trial: Media Ignores Key Accuser’s Criminal Past

John P. Martin, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press

Prosecution mouthpieces?
John P. Martin, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press

Leading journalists are ignoring a critical component of the current high-profile Catholic abuse trial in Philadelphia.

Mark Bukowski has accused Rev. James Brennan of raping him as a 14-year-old back in 1996. However, around the very same time that he accused the priest of the crime – in 2005 – Bukowski filed a very detailed false police report about a violent home robbery that never occurred.

Details about Bukowski's shocking crime have been completely nonexistent in media coverage of the trial.

In his false report, Bukowski relayed a number of astonishing details about his fabricated "crime," including that $675 from an employer, a DVD, prescription medicines, and a wristwatch were stolen from him. Bukowski also displayed cuts on his body and a t-shirt to police in an attempt to show evidence of a violent struggle.

Bukowski made the whole thing up. He had no employer. There was no robbery. There were no intruders. His mother was at home at the time of the alleged "robbery." Bukowski even pleaded guilty to filing his false report.

Where's the media?

For the past number of weeks, many news outlets have relied on the courtroom observances of a small group of individuals: John P. Martin at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press, and (more recently) Joann Loviglio of the Associated Press.

Although all three have certainly made references to Bukowski's criminal past, none have elaborated on any of the details about the accuser's bogus police report, nor have they defined that his troubling episode of concocting an extravagant hoax may be especially notable. And, yes, they all should surely know about it.

This comes as little surprise, as the coverage from these journalists – especially from Martin and Dale – has been noticeably biased in favor of the prosecution and against the Catholic Church. Neither writer appears to miss an opportunity to portray the Church in the most negative light. At times John Martin's coverage has been slanted to the point that his columns read like sheets of talking points from the Philly D.A.'s Office.

Other journalists have been biased as well. Several have trumpeted Bukowski as a "former Marine" but have neglected to note that he was discharged after going AWOL.

Unfortunately, there has yet to be any indication that the one-sided coverage will change anytime soon.

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[By the way, if you are looking for superior, more balanced, tells-it-like-it-is coverage of the trial, we recommend veteran journalist Ralph Cipriano over at the Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog. Check it out.]