Father James Brennan
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Suits filed: 2011
Assigned as follows:
- 1989-1990: Wood Girls High School
- 1990-1996: Office for Youth and Young Adults
- 1989-1991: St. Andrew (Newtown, PA)
- 1991-1996: O’Hara High School (Springfield, PA)
- 1991-1995: Divine Providence Village (Springfield, PA)
- 1995-1996: St. Mary Magdalen (Media, PA)
- 1996-1997: Leave of Absence
- 1997-1998: St. Jerome (Philadelphia, PA)
- 1998-2000: Assumption B.V.M. (Feasterville, PA)
- 2000-2001: Mepkin Abbey
- 2001: Temporarily Unassigned
- 2001-2006: Assumption B.V.M. (Feasterville, PA)
Summary of Allegations Against Father James Brennan:
Father James Brennan was ordained a priest in 1989 and served in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He served in multiple parishes throughout his career. According to the Philadelphia 2011 Grand Jury Report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia hierarchy knew that Father Brennan was a troubled priest with a history of inappropriate relationships with minors.
Archdiocese records show that, in 1991, Cardinal Bevilacqua appointed Father Brennan to the faculty of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania, and granted him a secondary assignment as the livein chaplain at Divine Providence Village, a residential facility for young women with developmental disabilities. According to the report, Father Brennan was known to have inappropriate relationships with minors. The Grand Jury reviewed several reports of interviews conducted by investigators for the Archdiocese. In one, Dr. Thomas O’Brien, the director of guidance at Cardinal O’Hara, said that Father Brennan and other priests took students out of class to conduct closed-door meetings, a practice that Dr. O’Brien felt the need to ban.
According to the report Father Brennan engaged in inappropriate behavior with the son of a family he became close with in his first assignment at St. Andrew in Newtown. As an adult, the man told the Grand Jury that Father Brennan often visited the family on weekends during his time at St. Andrew, and continued the practice for years after he left the parish in 1991, sometimes staying overnight with the family.
Father Brennan’s close relationship with the family was well documented in an investigation performed by the Archdiocese’s investigator. Father Brennan was particularly close to the boy, who was about 9 years old when the priest started becoming closer to the family. According to the report Father Brennan raped the boy. Father Brennan was removed from active ministry in 2006 after the came forward.
In 2011, he was tried in a Philadelphia criminal court, along with disgraced Secretary for Clergy Msgr. William Lynn. The first jury deadlocked but Brennan took a plea deal rather than undergo a second trial. He agreed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge and received two years probation.
His status as a priest remains in limbo pending the results of a canonical trial, as he apparently refused to seek laicization (removal from the priesthood by the Vatican) voluntarily. Since 2006, he has had no faculties to minister, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In 2016 he pleaded no contest in a plea deal to second-degree misdemeanor assault and received two years’ probation. His laicization is pending.
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