An ex-priest suspected of abusing more than 20 children at four Philadelphia-area parishes was sued Monday by a Phoenix man who said his life fell apart after he was abused as an altar boy in the early 1990s.
An explosive 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on priest abuse devotes a lengthy section to the former Rev. Robert L. Brennan.
According to the report, the archdiocese reassigned Brennan from parish to parish without warning his supervisors, even after sending him for psychiatric treatment or counseling four times.
The Phoenix man said he would not have been abused at Resurrection of our Lord Parish in Philadelphia in 1993-94 had the archdiocese taken stronger action against Brennan, the lawsuit said. According to the grand jury report, secretary for clergy William Lynn made Brennan an assistant pastor there despite earlier complaints involving at least 10 boys and failed to warn the pastor to closely supervise him.
Fellow priests had complained about Brennan's behavior with boys, as did other parish employees and parents, some of whom said he held boys on his lap and touched their stomachs and buttocks.
Church-abuse lawyer Jeff Anderson said his 32-year-old client has been hospitalized repeatedly and attempted suicide since the sexual abuse, which allegedly started when the client was a 13-year-old student at Resurrection school.
His family only recently learned of the widespread accusations raised against Brennan when a friend told them about a second Philadelphia grand jury report involving priest abuse that was filed this year, Anderson said. That report charges four priests or ex-priests with abusing children and charges Lynn with conspiracy and child endangerment.
The lawsuit also names Cardinal Justin Rigali and his predecessor, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, as defendants.
The archdiocese declined to comment on the lawsuit. The 77-year-old Brennan was removed from ministry in 2005, according to Anderson. He does not have a listed phone number at his Perryville, Md., address.
A lawyer for Lynn said his client was being dragged into the lawsuit simply because of his inclusion in the grand jury report.
“Monsignor Lynn has done absolutely nothing wrong. We intend to defend these baseless civil allegations as vigorously as we are defending against the baseless criminal charges,” lawyer Jeff Lindy said.