Two Catholic officials in Philadelphia were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for sexually abusing a young boy more than a decade ago.
“This prison sentence sends a clear message to sexual assault victims in Philadelphia. If you come forward, you will be heard,” said District Attorney Seth Williams in a statement. “I would also like to compliment the jury for its hard work in carefully sifting through the evidence, and coming up with a just verdict.”
Rev. Charles Engelhardt, a Roman Catholic priest and a former teacher, was sentenced to 6 to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing the young boy.
As the result of a Philadelphia District Attorney’s investigation, the Oblate priest was accused in 2011 of orally sodomizing and molesting the 10-year-old altar boy. The incident occured in 1998 at St. Jerome Parish in Philadelphia.
Engelhardt was convicted Wednesday of indecent assault, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor and conspiracy charges, according to the District Attorney’s office.
The boy’s sixth-grade teacher at St. Jerome School, Bernard Shero, was also accused in 2011 of orally and anally sodomizing him when he was 11-years-old. Shero was convicted of rape, attempted rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, indecent sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and corruption of a minor charges in January. He was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison.
Both men have maintained their innocence.
“I’ve accepted this injustice and I will continue to do so until it is righted, because I believe it will be righted,” Engelhardt said, according to USA Today. “I had no interaction with (the accuser) in any way.”
Edward Avery, an Archdiocesan priest who was defrocked in 2006, was charged last year with similar offenses against the same boy. He pleaded guilty in 2012, and is currently serving a 2 to 5 year prison sentence.
[A judge and a gavel via Shutterstock]