Monica Yant Kinney: Young man describes sexual abuse by 2 priests, teacher to grand jury

Philadelphia Inquirer/September 4, 2011

For now he's known as "Billy." His name will become public if he takes the stand next year in separate criminal and civil trials that could cost the archdiocese dearly.

Billy was 21 in March 2010, when he unloaded horrifying secrets to a grand jury investigating clergy sex abuse. In two wrenching hours, he talked about spending his adolescence in drug treatment and mental-health facilities, coping with the aftershocks of alleged abuse by two priests and a teacher who stole a 10-year-old's faith, innocence, and future.

"My whole personality changed" after being molested and raped by men he feared and trusted, he said. "I turned into a loner."

The pain and shame, "I buried it with drugs."

Billy's story, unfolding in his own words for the first time, comes from a 63-page transcript of his grand jury appearance - a normally secret document released last week. Prosecutors introduced the testimony he gave under oath in the criminal case alleging that Billy was targeted and then shared like a sexual plaything by the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, the Rev. Edward Avery, and teacher Bernard Shero.

All three men maintain they are innocent. Their lawyers cannot comment because of a gag order on all participants.

What you read here is Billy's version of the events, one that will surely be challenged in court.

Darkness brought to light

The torment, Billy alleged, began in 1999 in the sacristy of St. Jerome's in Northeast Philadelphia when Engelhardt told the altar server to stick around after 6:30 a.m. Mass.

"He gave me some church wine," Billy's story began. "He pulled out some pornographic magazines. He told me it was time for me to become a man and our sessions were going to begin."

A week later, after another early service, Engelhardt made his move.

"He told me to strip," Billy said. "He was very impatient."

The priest also undressed, removing all but his socks.

"He told me to come closer," then began performing sex acts on the stunned child. Billy said nothing and shut his eyes. Engelhardt soon told the boy it was his turn.

"He kept on calling me son," Billy recounted. When it was over, "he basically told me that I did a good job and that I was dismissed."

The 10-year-old did as he was told. He got dressed and proceeded to his fifth-grade class.

He told no one, too terrified "I would get in trouble."

Two weeks later, after another Mass, Engelhardt asked Billy if he was "ready for another session."

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