'So Help Me God:' Ex-Priest Recants Plea

Imprisoned former priest Edward Avery says he pleaded guilty to a crime he didn't commit

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    An imprisoned ex-priest at the center of a landmark Roman Catholic priest-abuse case in Philadelphia says he pleaded guilty to a crime he didn't commit.

    Seventy-year-old Edward Avery testified Thursday that he never touched his accuser but feared a long sentence if convicted at trial.
     
    The same accuser says he was raped by Avery, the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and ex-teacher Bernard Shero in about 1999.
     
    Engelhardt and Shero are on trial.
     
    Avery's testimony could bolster the defense. But prosecutors note that Avery still faces a civil suit and harassment in prison.
     
    A jury last year convicted Monsignor William Lynn of child endangerment for placing Avery in a parish despite an earlier sex-abuse complaint.
     
    On the stand, Avery admitted to that earlier complaint. But asked if he raped the man accusing Engelhardt and Shero, Avery said: "I did not. So help me God."
     

     


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