Saturday 26 March 2011

Setback for clergy accused of abuse

The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Philadelphia faces the prospect of a hard-fought criminal trial over its handling of the priest-abuse scandal after a judge on Friday upheld child-endangerment charges against a high-ranking church official.

Four co-defendants — two priests, an ex-priest and a former Catholic school teacher — are charged with raping children. The ruling, issued at a sometimes heated hearing, denied lawyers the chance to fight the charges at a preliminary stage.

Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes said a 124-page grand jury report issued last month demonstrates probable cause, even on newly added conspiracy charges. She also issued a gag order, preventing parties from publicly discussing the case.

The case is drawing special attention because prosecutors for the first time charged a church official for allegedly transferring predator priests to new parishes without warning, thereby exposing more children to them.

Monsignor William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy and most recently the pastor at St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, faces up to 28 years in prison if convicted.

The archdiocese will continue to pay his legal fees, even though the judge warned Lynn that his legal strategy may come to conflict with the church's.

Lynn said he understood the potential conflict but accepted the arrangement, at least for now. Friends have offered to help with his legal bills if he later needs it, he added.

Lynn also had counsel provided by the archdiocese during an earlier grand jury investigation of pedophile priests, which culminated with a damning 2005 grand jury report, but no criminal charges.

"Their interests may not align with yours," Cardwell Hughes told him Friday, "if you reach a point where the archdiocese says, 'We don't want you to do X because X exposes the archdiocese to liability, criminally or civilly, or X exposes the archdiocese to negative publicity.'"

"It may be in your best interest to attack certain people," Cardwell Hughes warned the monsignor, who has been put on administrative leave by the archdiocese.

‘Speaking in Tongues’ has lots to say

The psychological thriller “Speaking in Tongues” — a story of indiscretion and betrayal — comes to the Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3 next week.

Directed by John Peakes, the production begins with previews on March 29, opens March 31 and continues through April 17 in the Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3.

Four actors create nine characters whose lives intersect in seemingly random incidents throughout “Speaking in Tongues.” This intriguing trilogy of interwoven stories unveils a lonely marriage, a missing person, indiscretion and betrayal. On an isolated road, a leading psychiatrist disappears. As a detective works to piece together what happened, he delivers a puzzle of relationships in crisis. People are not who they seem to be. This highly charged thriller is a painfully honest and wickedly funny drama about making mistakes and living with the consequences.

“Speaking in Tongues” was written by the Australian playwright Andrew Bovell. In 2001, he adapted the play for screen as “Lantana.”

The cast of “Speaking in Tongues” includes local favorites Ian Merrill Peakes (Pete/Nick/John), his wife, Karen Peakes (Jane/Sarah), Susan Riley Stevens (Sonja/Valerie) and William Zielinski (Leon/Neil). Ian Peakes has appeared in Walnut productions, including “Of Mice and Men” and “Enchanted April.” Karen Peakes returns to the Walnut after appearing in “Fallen Angels.” Also in the cast are Susan Riley Stevens and William Zielinski.

“Speaking” is directed by John Peakes, who made his directorial debut at the Walnut last season with the hilarious “Travels With My Aunt.” He has also been seen on the Walnut’s Mainstage in productions, including “Oliver!” and “42nd Street.”

Taylor commits verbal misconduct

Lawrence Taylor may be the most honest (former) professional athlete in the business. He’s a complete idiot, but darn it, he’s honest. Sentenced Tuesday to six years probation for consorting with an underage prostitute, he was not only unapologetic about the incident but flippant about prostitution itself.

One of his pure-gold quotes to Fox News reads as follows: “I guess you call it a crime. It’s one of those crimes you don’t think about. You never think you’re gonna get busted because everyone does it until you get busted, and then it’s more embarrassing than anything else.”

Yes, it must be embarrassing to be heard expressing ambivalence about an industry that’s responsible for immeasurable suffering worldwide. Taylor should go into trauma counseling or something.

Of course, as Taylor points out, he’s “not the cause of prostitution.”

No genius, but you’re obviously contributing to it — in more ways than one.

It’s actually fortunate Taylor made those comments, because it sheds light on the ignorance and arrogance that leads countless famous people — athletes and otherwise — to break the law with near impunity and then whine when they get caught.

Instead of vilifying Taylor for not faking a mea culpa, his interview should be used to create a Barack-Obama-style “teachable moment.” If Taylor doesn’t know that prostitution is an exploitative business, and instead just thinks of it as a victimless crime, you can be at lot of other people do, too. 
Forget probation — someone needs to give the man an education. Maybe an enlightened Taylor could end up setting an example. More likely, though, is that he’ll remain another disgraced athlete with a very angry wife.

Cam Williams verbally commits to Penn St.

Catholic Memorial's Cam Williams has given a verbal commitment to Penn St., according to a Big-10 coach. Catholic Memorial head coach Alex Campea has confirmed the report.

He follows his brother Brennan's move to a Division 1 college football program.

William's dad, Brent, was a lineman in the NFL and played for the Patriots. The wide receiver/ running back/linebacker/safety was being primarily recruited as a linebacker, according to Campea.

He missed much of the season with an injury but still made the Catholic Conference's all-star team.

Editor's note: This post originally mentioned Williams committing Tennessee. Williams has indeed committed to Penn St.

Driver Accuses State Trooper Of Verbal

Investigators said a state trooper is being accused of verbally and physically assaulting a driver he pulled over.

The driver said the trooper even placed a gun in his mouth.

Pennsylvania State Police said they already questioned the trooper involved and that his story does not match up with what the alleged victim said.

Police said the investigation is still on-going.