Andrew McCormick: Priest charged with sex assault of boy at Saint John Cantius

A Philadelphia priest who was suspended last year by the Archdiocese has been charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy at St. John Cantius Church in 1997.

Rev. Andrew McCormick, 56, was arrested Thursday at his parents’ home in Pottstown, authorities said. McCormick was among 21 priests suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia following a 2011 grand jury report that said priests accused of abuse were still in the ministry. Authorities said the suspension was related to a separate allegation in 2004.

The alleged victim in the 1997 assault contacted police in December 2011, authorities said. He told police that McCormick assaulted him on a single occasion in the rectory at St. John Cantius in Port Richmond, where McCormick was pastor.

“I applaud the courage of this young man,” District Attorney Seth Williams said. “He was able to what, sadly, so many other victims of sexual abuse have not been able to do: come forward and tell the police.”

According to authorities, McCormick tried to discourage the boy from telling anyone about the abuse by telling him, “Masturbation is a sin, homosexuality is a sin, pre-marital sex is a sin and lying is a sin.” The victim was ultimately prompted, they said, by concern about another relative who McCormick had had contact with, along with the prosecution of other priests and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.

Williams said prosecutors believe McCormick may have abused other children.

“Mr. McCormick had a pattern of grooming altar boys. He frequently took young boys on trips to Poland. We hope that the courage demonstrated by the victim in this case will encourage other possible victims of child sex abuse to come forward.”

Before St. John Cantius, McCormick served as priest at St. Adalbert in Philadelphia, St. Bede the Venerable in Holland, Pa. Most recently, he served at Sacred Heart in Swedesburg, where he was placed on leave last year. Since then, he has not been permitted to exercise his public ministry or present himself as a priest.

McCormick is facing charges on involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, corrupting the morals of a minor, indecent assault and indecent exposure. Bail has been set at $150,000 and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 17.

The charges come on the heels of the conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged with covering up sex abuse. Lynn was sentenced earlier this week to three to six years in prison.

Prosecutors also plan to re-try Rev. James Brennan, Lynn’s co-defendant, for an alleged attempted assault of a 14-year-old boy at St. Jerome’s Parish in 1996. A jury was deadlocked on two charges against him.

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