Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bishop deceives parishioners
Retired Allentown Bishop Edward Cullen plays role in Philadelphia grand jury report on abusive priests
Thursday, February 24, 2011
The Express-Times
Retired Allentown Bishop Edward Cullen played a role in deceiving parishioners about a priest accused of molesting an altar boy at a Philadelphia parish 18 years ago, according to a Philadelphia grand jury report.

Cullen, who retired as bishop of Allentown in May 2009, was vicar for administration to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua in Philadelphia before becoming Allentown Diocese bishop in 1998.

In 1993, Cullen issued a memo to another Philadelphia Archdiocese administrator, Monsignor William Lynn, saying parishioners of St. Therese of the Child Jesus parish in Philadelphia should be told the Rev. Edward Avery was resigning as pastor for health reasons, the grand jury report says.

In fact, Avery had been accused of sexual abuse.

Avery later was assigned to another parish, St. Jerome, where authorities say in 1998 he, another priest and a teacher started sexually assaulting a boy when the boy was 10. Prosecutors say the abuse continued until 2000.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced rape and related charges against Avery and the others in connection with that alleged abuse earlier this month.

Unprecedented case

Additionally, in what is believed to be the first-of-its-kind case in the nation, the district attorney's office arrested and charged Lynn because they said he reassigned priests with knowledge of their abusiveness and failed to protect children from sexual abuse.

Cullen, a top aide to Bevilacqua, will face no charges because the statute of limitations on the 1993 case identified in the grand jury report has expired, said Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

"That does not mean if a new victim came forward and there was new evidence, he wouldn't be charged," Jamerson said.

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