A young man took the stand Wednesday in a clergy-sex-abuse trial involving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, telling the jury of the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of two priests; leading to his use of drugs.
The 23-year-old testified that former priest Edward Avery sexually abused him twice in the church storage room at St. Jerome Parish in northeast Philadelphia. Both incidents happened after Mass in 1999, when he was a 10-year-old altar boy.
Prosecutors showed the jury a photograph of the young man when he was a smiling fifth grader as the jury listened to him describe his involvement in school before the abuse.
The victim told the jury that Avery would have him do a striptease to fast-paced church music as he looked on with an "eerie smile". The witness and Avery would then masturbate and perform oral sex on each other.
The victim said as the then-priest caressed his back and kissed his neck, Avery talked to him. "He told me that God loves me, this is what God wants, and it was time for me to become a man," the witness said.
After the deviant acts, the young man recalled wiping Avery's semen off his chest and neck with a shirt before walking home from the church.
"I was scared; I thought I was going to get in trouble, and that no one was going to believe me," he said.
The witness said a similar incident happened about two weeks later. Following these two acts of abuse, the victim said he began to switch services with other altar boys so he could avoid Avery.
The victim said he started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana the summer after fifth grade, when he turned 11-years-old. The once happy kid became very withdrawn, and his drug use intensified leading to prescription pills and eventually heroin. He went to 23 different treatment centers and three different high schools. He also said he tried to commit suicide around the age of fourteen.
The young man said he did not tell his parents due to fear, and it wasn't brought to the attention of the archdiocese until 2009.
The attorneys defending Monsignor William Lynn, a former secretary of clergy at the Philadelphia Archdiocese who is charged with conspiracy of endangering the welfare of a child, did not question the victim.
Avery's guilty plea to sexual abuse of the witness and to conspiring with Lynn were not introduced in the courtroom.
Earlier Wednesday, a 49-year-old victim testified that he was fondled by Avery when he was 15 and 18-years-old. Both incidents took place when Avery and the victim shared a bed.
The witness, who described Avery as being charismatic and popular with the youth of his parish, said he felt very betrayed by the former priest. However, he did not cut all ties after these sexual assaults.
In 1992, the victim said he contacted the archdiocese because he "needed to know the threat on impressionable young men was gone".
Though Lynn contacted and met with the victim, he said he was still unsure of Avery's status in the church and questioned if the archdiocese was taking action.
"I didn't get a sense that they were seeing my story as credible," the witness said.
The doctor's initial complaint to the archdiocese came six years before the young man's abuse at St. Jerome Parish.
Avery was originally set to be on trial with Lynn and Rev. James Brennan, but pleaded guilty at the last minute. He is set to spend 2 ½ to five years in prison. Avery's guilty plea did not require him to testify against Lynn.
The prosecution alleges that Lynn knew about Avery's past, but transferred him to different parishes to avoid laicization from the archdiocese. However, the defense holds that Lynn made an effort to remove Avery from children.
Lynn is on trial Brennan, who is charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old in 1996. Both men have pleaded not guilty to these charges.