Philly Priest Accuser: Feared Hell for Being Gay
A former altar boy testified Thursday that he thought he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest as punishment for being gay.
He said he tried to hang himself at age 11 as he struggled with guilt over the alleged 1997 encounter.
"I remember trying to hang myself a lot. ... Probably every week," the young man testified in a Philadelphia courtroom in the trial of the Rev. Andrew McCormick. "I couldn’t deal with the guilt of what had happened, or what I am."
McCormick, 57, is the latest Philadelphia priest to go on trial for long-ago alleged encounters, a result of updated state laws that give victims more time to come forward. He has pleaded not guilty.
The accuser is now 26 and works in management for a high-end design label. He described his career as "successful," but said he had struggled with drugs and alcohol for a decade.
Describing the encounter at St. John Cantius Parish, he said that he was sexually assaulted after serving Mass one evening, on a "Holy Day of Obligation," when Catholics must attend Mass. He went to the rectory afterward for cookies, and was invited to see McCormick’s living quarters, he said.
He said the priest then undressed and fondled him and tried to engage in a sexual act.
The boy’s mother by then suspected her 10-year-old son was gay, and had gone to the priest for counseling. The priest’s warnings to the boy about homosexuality made him feel "horrible," the accuser said.