Federal prosecutors have charged former Roman Catholic priest Robert Brennan with four counts of lying to authorities about whether he knew the man who accused him of sexual abuse and his family. He could face up to 32 years in prison if convicted. The charges come as part of a sweeping investigation of clerical child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania. Brennan’s arrest is the first stemming from a probe by U.S. Attorney William McSwain in the wake of last year’s damming grand-jury report on the church.
In 2013, Brennan was indicted on sexual-assault charges, but the case was dropped when accuser Sean McIlmail died of a drug overdose before trial. According to the indictment, Brennan told FBI agents in April that he did not know McIlmail from his years at a northeast Philadelphia parish from 1993 to 2004. According to the AP, a 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report repeatedly named Brennan in complaints about inappropriate behavior around children. He was suspended by the church, moved to Maryland, and then defrocked in 2017.