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Jury deliberates Philly priest-abuse case 7th day

By Maryclaire Dale
Associated Press / June 12, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA—An apparently frustrated defense lawyer on the seventh day of jury deliberations in a groundbreaking clergy-abuse case scolded the judge and, outside the Philadelphia courtroom, slammed his cellphone against a wall.

Jurors are deliberating on the fate of Roman Catholic priest James Brennan and the monsignor who supervised him. The jury's frequent requests to re-hear testimony or get help interpreting the law led defense lawyer William Brennan to explode in court Tuesday.

"They have to do their jobs," insisted William Brennan, who is no relation to his client James Brennan. "They have to rely on their recollections. We can't do their jobs."

As the judge contemplated allowing jurors to hear the priest's accuser's testimony from a 2008 church trial, William Brennan strenuously objected and got testy. He argued against reading the testimony to the jury, which spent about two hours in court Monday hearing the priest's testimony from his canonical trial for a second time. He said jurors also shouldn't be allowed to hear -- again -- the accuser's two days of trial testimony.

"Sometimes, you have to say with your big black robe (on), `Do your job!'" Brennan told Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.

Brennan, who was cited for contempt over a heated objection previously in the trial, slammed his cellphone against a wall in the hallway later Tuesday.

James Brennan, 48, is on trial with Monsignor William Lynn, who served as secretary for clergy at the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1992 to 2004. Lynn, 61, is the first U.S. church official to be charged for his handling of clergy abuse complaints.

Brennan is charged with attempted rape and child endangerment. Lynn is charged with conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment, for allegedly endangering Brennan's accuser and a victim of defrocked priest Edward Avery.

The trial began March 26. The jury of seven men and five women appeared attentive during the 10 weeks of testimony, and began deliberations June 1.

Avery pleaded guilty to sexual assault and conspiracy days before the trial. He is now in prison.

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