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Philly D.A.: Alleged Victim In Rape Case Against Former Priest Dies

By Tony Hanson, Kristina Dougherty, Todd Quinones

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The alleged victim in a recently charged clergy sexual abuse case is dead, and the future of the case is now uncertain.

District Attorney Seth Williams announced that the alleged victim in the rape and assault case against Robert Brennan has died (See Related Story).

"It is with great sadness that I have to announce that the victim in the rape and assault case against Robert Brennan passed away unexpectedly," Williams said. "The decades long demons and scars the victim in this case endured ended this weekend when he was found dead by Philadelphia Police Detectives.  I cannot say enough about the bravery this young man displayed in coming forward to bring these crimes to light.  This young man's courage should serve as an inspiration to us all."

Robert Brennan is accused of sexually assaulting the victim over a period of four years.

Brennan, 75, is currently facing charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault.

A preliminary hearing for Brennan had been set for today, but has been rescheduled.

Marci Hamilton, a lawyer for the family of the victim, says the victim died this past Sunday after a drug relapse.

"I have every hope that this young man did not die in vain," she said.

Hamilton says the victim had dealt with substance issues in the years following the alleged abuse. The victim had gotten clean when he brought the charges forward and through the investigation. The family and Hamilton saw him on Friday and said he was in good condition and good spirits.

"To see someone who had such a good heart be defeated in the end by the abuse and the cover-up, is just, it's really devastating," she said.

Hamilton commended the victim's bravery for coming forward and hopes, if there is a silver lining to his death, that other victims of Brennan come forward and seek justice.

The defense attorney for the accused Robert Brennan has declined comment saying he is not familiar with the facts of the death, or even the prosecution's case since there hadn't been a preliminary hearing.

The defense attorney had previously said the defense would fight the charges and Father Brennan would plead not guilty.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia released the following statement:

"The Archdiocese offers its prayerful condolences to the family of this young man during this time of sadness. May he rest in the peace of the Lord and may God grant comfort to his family, friends and loved ones."

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is currently reviewing the case, and will likely have a decision on the status of this prosecution sometime next week.

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