Watch CBS News

Former Philadelphia Priest Previously Accused Of Sex Abuse Pleads Guilty To Lying To FBI

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A defrocked Philadelphia priest once accused of sex abuse pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on Wednesday. Eyewitness News was at Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church in Rhawnhurst.

It's where Robert Brennan is accused of sexually assaulting an altar boy decades ago. The alleged victim has passed away but now his family is finally getting justice.

Only CBS3 was there as Robert Brennan walked into federal court in Center City Wednesday.

Robert Brennan
Credit: CBS3

The 83-year-old former catholic priest declined to answer questions from Eyewitness News. But in court, Brennan pleaded guilty to four counts of making false statements to the FBI involving one of his accusers.

"He claimed that he did not know the victim, he did not know his father, his mother or his brother," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan said.

The alleged victim was Sean McIlmail. He was 11 years old and an altar boy at Resurrection of Our Lord parish in Rhawnhurst, where the raping and molesting allegedly happened in 1998.

Years later, in 2013, then-Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams filed rape charges against Brennan after McIlmail came forward to police.

Sean's family sat down with former Eyewitness News anchor Pat Ciarrochi after the rape charges were dropped following his sudden death from a drug overdose.

"I think he was just so humiliated and full of shame that he kind of just allowed it to take over himself," Sean's brother said.

Now with Brennan's guilty plea, the McIlmail family says they have finally found some closure.

"All these little kids -- they steal their innocence before they even know what innocence is," Michael McIlmail said. "I would like to see him rot in jail till the day he dies."

Brennan's defense team reached a tentative plea agreement with prosecutors that includes five years of probation and two years of house arrest, essentially allowing the former priest to avoid prison.

But the judge could change that and noted the charges means Brennan could get up to 36 years in prison. The judge will announce Brennan's sentencing in March.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.