Altar Boy's Family Sues Church in Sex Abuse Case

The Philadelphia family says their son would not have died if the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had heeded complaints.

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    Editor's Note: This video originally aired on October 23, 2013
    Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams withdrew abuse charges against Father Robert Brennan Wednesday, just days after his accuser died of a drug overdose. Williams said there was no longer enough evidence for a trial. NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn gets reaction. (Published Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013)

    Relatives of an alleged priest-abuse victim who died of a drug overdose say the man would still be alive if the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had heeded complaints about the cleric.
     
    Attorneys for the family of Sean McIlmail announced a wrongful death lawsuit against Roman Catholic church officials on Wednesday.
     
    They say the archdiocese moved the Rev. Robert L. Brennan from parish to parish, allowing him to prey on children. McIlmail claimed Brennan abused him for years, beginning at age 11.
     
    Prosecutors filed charges in September against Brennan based on McIlmail's allegations.

    The charges were dropped last month after McIlmail died of an overdose.

    At that point in time, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said McIlmail had suffered in silence for over a decade.

    "Sean found his own way of self-medicating, which unfortunately led to his death."

    Williams said without McIlmail's testimony, there was no longer enough evidence -- direct or circumstantial -- to continue with a trial.

    "In many cases of sexual assault whether they be victims of adults or children, really the testimony of that victim is paramount to getting a conviction," Williams said.
     
    A church spokesman declined to comment. Brennan's attorney has said previously that the priest hoped to clear his name at trial.