Ex-priest accused of attempted rape with teen takes plea deal

Ex-priest accused of attempted rape with teen takes plea deal

The Rev. James J. Brennan, seen here leaving the Criminal Justice Complex in 2012. He was charged in 2011 for the attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy in 1996, and has now accepted a plea deal. (Credit: Philadelphia Inquirer.)

A former priest from Philadelphia accused of trying to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996 has pleaded no contest to simple assault under a deal with prosecutors, while the first Church official in the U.S. convicted of an abuse cover-up, Monsignor William Lynn, will be retried next year after his conviction was overturned.

PHILADELPHIA — A former Roman Catholic priest from Philadelphia accused of trying to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996 has pleaded no contest to simple assault under a deal with prosecutors.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports James Brennan entered the plea on Monday. Prosecutors say he’ll be sentenced to two years’ probation.

Brennan’s attorney says the offer was too good to refuse. Prosecutors say the deal was reached with the victim’s input.

Jury selection was set for Monday on attempted rape and endangerment charges.

Brennan was charged following an investigation into how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia handled child sex-abuse complaints. Two separate grand jury reports, in 2005 and 2011, cited breakdowns and failures in reporting abuse allegations.

Co-defendant Monsignor William Lynn will be retried next year over his handling of priest-abuse complaints after his child endangerment conviction, which came with a sentence of three to six years, was twice overturned. He remains free on $250,000 bail.

Lynn had served as the secretary for clergy under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and also under Cardinal Justin Rigali.

At the time, Lynn was the first Church official in the United States to be convicted and sentenced to a jail term not for committing sexual abuse on a minor himself, but for allegedly mishandling such a complaint against another cleric under his jurisdiction.

 

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