For immediate release, November 12, 2013
In September 2013, a former Philadelphia area priest, Robert Brennan, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a boy back in 1998. The abuse was alleged to have occurred over the course of 3 years. The victim, who is now deceased, came forward earlier this year and accused Brennan of molesting him beginning when he was just 11 years old. That victim died last month of a suspected drug overdose. Without the testimony of the victim, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has dismissed the case against Brennan.
This young man’s tragic ending is quite common for victims of child sexual abuse. Victims of sexual abuse often suffer from drug and alcohol addiction and struggle with memories of horrific abuse well into adulthood. It is a sad, but true reality, victims of child sexual abuse often suffer throughout their entire lives.
Why Victim Testimony is Crucial in Sexual Abuse Cases
Unless there is credible eyewitness testimony, victim testimony is almost always necessary in sexual abuse cases, including child molestation and child sex abuse. In Pennsylvania, child sex abusers are often charged with multiple crimes, which may include:
- attempted rape,
- involuntary deviant sexual intercourse (IDSI),
- corruption of minors,
- endangering the welfare of children, and
- aggravated sexual assault.
The elements of each crime are very specific. For instance, for rape involving forcible compulsion, a prosecutor must prove sexual intercourse by force. Without an eyewitness, the only other way to establish the necessary elements is through the testimony of the victim. For the crime of IDSI involving priests and teachers, the prosecutor would usually have to prove that the deviant sexual intercourse occurred when the victim was under the age of 16. Again without an eyewitness, the victim would have to testify.
Victim testimony in child sexual abuse and assault cases is so important because of the burden imposed on prosecutors. Under Pennsylvania criminal law, as in virtually all states, all elements of the crime must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard is the highest imposed under the law and is also practically impossible to meet without the actual victim.
Help if You’ve Been the Victim of Child Sex Abuse by a Priest or Teacher in Pennsylvania
If you have been the victim of child sex abuse, you can get help by contacting the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR). PCAR is a statewide organization offering services and resources for sex abuse victims and their loved ones. PCAR works with local agencies in every county in Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit www.pcar.org or call (888) 772-7227.
- Pennsylvania Priest Church Sex Abuse Scandal – Thomas Rooney
- The Catholic Church Priest Sex Abuse Scandal
About Brian Kent – Former Prosecutor and Now Civil Sex Abuse Lawyer
Brian Kent is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents victims of crime and victims of sex abuse. Brian is passionate about justice for victims of sex abuse and offers caring and compassionate legal representation. He offers a free consultation to all victims of sex abuse to discuss criminal and civil cases. 800.220.7600