His real name is Daniel. He’s a 27-year-old multimillionaire living in Florida. And his chronically evolving, apparently contradictory recollections of his own childhood sexual abuse formed the foundation of a criminal case that sent two priests and a lay teacher from the Northeast’s St. Jerome’s Parish, as well as a monsignor, to prison.
Those were just some of the revelations about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s sex abuse scandal contained in two investigative reports published recently by Newsweek and authored by veteran Philadelphia journalist Ralph Cipriano.
The articles, published on Jan. 20 and March 11, unveiled publicly for the first time sworn statements by the former St. Jerome’s altar boy previously known as “Billy Doe,” along with those of his brother and a retired District Attorney’s detective. The articles further revealed information from two classified psychiatric evaluations of the same abuse victim. In both, the evaluators concluded that the subject’s credibility was questionable at best.
In addition, the Newsweek articles reported that the archdiocese paid a $5 million civil settlement to Daniel Gallagher, a.k.a. Billy Doe, last August — just weeks before Pope Francis’ visit here — and that as recently as December, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office offered convicted Monsignor William Lynn his early freedom if he agreed to drop his appeals.
Instead of accepting the deal, Lynn — a central figure in the sex abuse scandal by virtue of his supervisory role as the archdiocese’s secretary of clergy in the 1990s — continues to fight his conviction at the appeals level. Meanwhile, the monsignor has already served 29 months of a three-to-six-year prison sentence, in addition to 16 months of house arrest.
“If the (Pennsylvania) Supreme Court doesn’t reverse his appeal, Lynn will be free and he gets a new trial,” Cipriano said in a recent interview with the Northeast Times. “And when he walks into his retrial, he will have already served his sentence. There is nothing more they can do to this guy, so he’s a dangerous guy at this point.”
The term “dangerous” could mean different things to the many different interests at stake in a complex saga involving the Catholic church, the DA’s office, two grand jury reports, two criminal trials, a civil lawsuit, numerous sworn depositions and at least two appeals-court reversals. Cipriano believes that Lynn wants nothing less than another full-blown trial, which would allow his attorneys to use Gallagher’s own sworn statements against him — particularly those statements he made years after Lynn’s June 2012 conviction on a child endangerment charge.
Lynn’s attorneys would likely juxtapose the testimony given by Gallagher during a spring 2014 deposition against other statements he has made in the past. Gallagher took part in the 2014 deposition as part of his own civil lawsuit against the archdiocese and his alleged abusers in which he sought compensation for psychological and physical injuries allegedly linked to his abuse almost two decades earlier.
In the Newsweek articles, Cipriano detailed many of the discrepancies over time in Gallagher’s various claims of his childhood sexual abuse.
“ ‘I don’t remember. I really don’t remember. I honestly don’t remember.’ That’s what former Philadelphia altar boy Daniel Gallagher had to say when questioned about the numerous and contradictory allegations of sex abuse he’s made over the years to doctors, drug counselors and social workers,” Cipriano wrote. “During a confidential deposition over two full days in May and June 2014, Gallagher claimed he couldn’t remember more than 130 times.”
The journalist further wrote: “In his deposition … Gallagher stated he couldn’t remember telling his doctors and drug counselors he’d been: sexually abused by a friend at age 6; sexually abused by a neighbor at 6; sexually abused by a teacher at age 7; sexually molested at 6 [or 8] by an unknown assailant; sexually molested at 8 [or 9] by a friend; and sexually abused at 9 by a 14-year-old boy.”
Cipriano did not disclose how he obtained Gallagher’s 2014 deposition. Nor has he revealed his sources for the similarly classified reports from two psychiatric evaluations of Gallagher. For both evaluations, the experts had been hired by defendants in Gallagher’s civil lawsuit (the same lawsuit that he ultimately settled with the archdiocese for $5 million, without going to trial). Cipriano discussed both analyses in his Newsweek articles.
Dr. Stephen Mechanick was working for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales when he interviewed Gallagher for almost three hours last Oct. 9. The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, one of the St. Jerome priests convicted of raping Gallagher, was a member of the Oblates. He was tried in 2013 alongside lay teacher Bernard Shero. Engelhardt died in prison the following year, but the Oblates continue to fight to clear his name.
Cipriano quoted Mechanick’s 40-page report on Gallagher in the January Newsweek article.
“The client is apparently immature and self-indulgent, manipulating others to his own ends. … He refuses to accept responsibility for his problems,” the forensic psychiatrist wrote. “ … Paranoid features and externalization of blame are likely to be present. … His manipulative and self-serving behavior may cause great difficulties for people close to him. … An individual with this profile is usually viewed as having a Personality Disorder, probably a Paranoid or Passive-Aggressive Personality. Symptoms of a delusional disorder are prominent in his clinical pattern.”
Mechanick wasn’t the only expert to doubt Gallagher.
Last May 19, a psychiatrist working for the archdiocese issued an 11-page report after reviewing Gallagher’s extensive medical records. Dr. James I. Hudson, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, concluded that Gallagher had given “strikingly inconsistent and discrepant accounts of the alleged incidents of sexual abuse” that he claimed to have suffered at the hands of the church officials, Cipriano wrote.
Hudson further reported that Gallagher had a history of various psychological disorders and chemical dependency that would not have been caused by sexual abuse. Hudson also refuted arguments made by a psychiatrist hired by Gallagher’s own legal team, who blamed Gallagher’s incongruous recollections on the trauma of the alleged attacks.
“There is no scientific evidence that psychological trauma can cause the massive amount of inconsistencies and contradictions that (are) exhibited by Mr. Gallagher’s reports of the allegations of sexual abuse,” Hudson wrote, according to Cipriano.
In speaking to the Northeast Times, Cipriano noted, “None of this stuff was ever reported (publicly), not the psychiatrist reports, and the depositions that had not been reported before. This whole process has been shrouded in secrecy.”
Although Lynn’s conviction is almost four years old and both Engelhardt’s and Shero’s almost three, the previously unseen court documents could still have a major impact on the historic prosecutions.
Shero, like Engelhardt, maintained his innocence of raping Gallagher throughout their trial. According to Cipriano, he has hired a new attorney and is preparing an appeal of his rape conviction.
Separately, Lynn and his lawyers have long held that they were made the scapegoat for a decades-old conspiracy employed by the most senior leaders of the archdiocese to cover up abuse allegations against dozens of priests.
“The only reason this is relevant is because the state Superior Court has ordered a new trial for Lynn and the DA has appealed to the Supreme Court,” Cipriano said.
The high court has not announced when it may issue a ruling on the DA’s latest filing. To follow Cipriano’s online reporting of the case, access his blog entries at www.bigtrial.net. The two Newsweek reports are available at www.newsweek.com. ••
Full disclosure: Above, Monsignor William Lynn was a central figure in the sex abuse scandal by virtue of his supervisory role in the 1990s. The monsignor is currently serving a three-to-six-year prison sentence. Two reports published by Newsweek revealed sworn statements by a former altar boy, Daniel Gallagher, who received a $5 million civil settlement in the case last August. TIMES FILE PHOTO