Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Child Abuse in Philadelphia

The term "child abuse" broadly defines a range of cruel acts inflicted upon a child, often by a parent but not necessarily. And while the term child abuse is often associated with physical cruelty, such as hitting, it also includes offenses such as neglect or emotional abuse. Philadelphia law mandates that certain professionals and caretakers, including school officials and child care workers, report signs of abuse.

Law enforcement takes the issue of child abuse very seriously and imposes penalties for caretakers and others who fail to report suspected abuse. But getting bruises and scrapes is part of being a kid; so anyone who believes they’ve been wrongly accused of child abuse should seek the counsel of a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney.

Recently in Child Abuse Category

Jury Selection Begins in Clergy Sex Abuse Trial

The trial for the last two defendants in a high-profile clergy sex abuse investigation is underway.

The Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former parochial schoolteacher Bernard Shero are facing trial starting this week, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The case bears striking similarity to the recent sex abuse cases involving the Boy Scouts of America and more locally, the Penn State sex abuse scandal. In the trial of the other defendants in this case, there was evidence showing how church officials turned a blind eye to the alleged victims to preserve the church's good name.

Collingdale Mother Charged in Toddler's Heroin Overdose

A mother in Collingdale is being charged with the death of her toddler son, reports The Associated Press.

The mother, Christine Rivero, was arrested for the mysterious death of her 11-month-old, Niccolo Varner, after toxicology reports indicated that the baby died from ingesting heroin.

The death occurred on July 15. At that time, Rivero told officers that her 5-year-old was to blame for the death. She claimed that she put both kids in a bath together and that the 5-year-old may have hit the toddler on the head.

Ex-Penn State President Graham Spanier Charged in Sandusky Scandal

Penn State's former president, Graham B. Spanier, has been charged with eight criminal counts in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The charges include obstruction of justice, perjury, and endangering a child.

As you probably know, earlier this year Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach and founder of a charity for troubled children, was convicted of more than 40 counts of child sex abuse.

The sex abuse allegedly took place over several years. Several incidents were brought to the attention of university officials, as some of the acts took place on school grounds.

Spanier was the president of Pennsylvania State University during this time.

Lack of Remorse: Jerry Sandusky Sentenced to 30 to 60 Years

Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, reports NBC News. That's effectively a life sentence, Judge John Cleland told Sandusky, 68.

Yet Sandusky continued to deny that he ever molested young boys. The ex-Penn State assistant football coach told the court, "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts," according to NBC.

Sandusky's statement in court mirrored an audio statement that aired on Penn State's radio station Monday night. In the recording, Sandusky insisted he was wrongly convicted on the 45 child sex-abuse charges involving 10 boys, Reuters reports.

Monsignor William Lynn Sentenced: 3-6 Years in State Prison

We were all captivated by the first trial of a senior clergy member who was accused of enabling the abuse of children. The trial went on for three months, and the jury deliberated for weeks. Now Monsignor William Lynn has been sentenced.

Judge Teresa Sarmina told Lynn that he knew what was right but "chose wrong" when sentencing him to three to six years in state prison, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The sentence is just short of the maximum that was requested by prosecutors, and far over the probation or county jail term that defense attorneys had requested.

Jerry Sandusky Sentencing; Judge Cleland Has His Work Cut Out

Friday, June 22, is when the jury comprised of Penn State alumni and other Centre County residents found Jerry Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Now, all that remains is for the court to determine the length of Sandusky's sentence.

The jury deliberated for two days to reach its verdict, only acquitting him of 3 charges, including the charge based on Mike McQueary's testimony of walking in on the alleged abuse of a child in the Penn State locker room, according to the Inquirer. Now that the jury has completed its duty of determining the facts of the case, it is up to the judge to determine what happens next.

It's Finally Over: Msgr. William J. Lynn Convicted, Faces Prison

An unprecedented trial that seemingly lasted forever, especially during jury deliberations, has finally come to a close with a conviction on one count and a deadlock on two others, reports the New York Times.

Monsignor William J. Lynn was convicted, after almost two weeks of deliberation, of endangering children after he allowed predators to continue ministering to youths. The tragic decision resulted in the preventable alleged molestation of a 10-year-old victim.

Priest Sex-Abuse Case Could End with Hung Jury and Mistrial

You all know about the priest sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. You also know about how the scandal has hit the Philadelphia Archdiocese, with one former priest already pleading guilty to charges of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in 1999, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now, the trial that was supposed to provide answers may end in a hung jury in the cases of Monsignor William Lynn and Reverend James Brennan, according to FOX29. The jury communicated in a note to Judge M. Teresa Sarmina that it was in a "hung jury situation" for all but one of the five charges against Lynn and Brennan, according to the Inquirer.

The judge has instructed the jury to keep trying, but what if they cannot reach consensus?

Sandusky Disorder Evidence to Be Part of Defense

All of the horrifying testimony has been presented in the Sandusky trial. All of the prosecution's witnesses have told their side of the story and the experts agree that Sandusky's only chance at a defense is to discredit all of the testimony against him, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now the defense wants to put on Sandusky's disorder evidence.

On Friday, Judge John Cleland ruled that Sandusky will be allowed to present expert evidence that he has "histrionic personality disorder" (HPD) as long as Sandusky is made available to the prosecution for examination, reports the Associated Press. The defense believes the disorder could explain away Sandusky's letters and other alleged grooming of victims.

What was the judge's order and what does it means to Sandusky's defense?

Testimony in Sandusky Trial Paints Uphill Climb for Coach?

This week the Jerry Sandusky trial got underway with testimony by the prosecutions’ witnesses, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. So far there have been multiple victims’ testimony, including the testimony of former Penn State assistant coach Michael McQueary, and that of McQueary’s father, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Each victim has depicted graphic scenes of abuse by the Sandusky that occurred in his home, hotel rooms, and in the Penn State locker rooms, according to NBC10. Some of the victims say that the coach threatened them after the events, saying that the victim would never see his family again if he told, reports NBC10.

The issue for Sandusky is that he needs to cast reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds about this testimony.