A Philadelphia priest died in prison after being convicted of repeatedly raping a 10-year-old boy. A new report from court-appointed psychiatrist concludes the accuser, now a young man with a $5 million settlement in his pocket, may be a pathological liar and his whole testimony has been thrown into serious doubt.
Daniel Gallagher made national news in 2011 when he charged two Catholic priests and one teacher with serial rape when he was a fifth and sixth grader at St. Jerome’s parish in Philadelphia. His testimony put four people in jail, including two Catholic priests — Charles Engelhardt and Edward Avery — and one Catholic school teacher, Bernard Shero.
His testimony also led to the conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, then Secretary for Clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, for endangering the welfare of a child. Lynn became the first Catholic administrator jailed for failing to protect a child.
Gallagher, then identified as “Billy Doe” and described as “a sweet gentle kid with boyish good looks,” charged that on January 30, 2009 a priest assaulted him after Gallagher served as altar boy at a 6:15 a.m. Mass. He said the priest got him drunk on sacramental wine and then anally raped him for five hours. After it was over, Gallagher said the priest told him, “If you ever tell anyone, I will kill you.”
In another attack he charged that the priest “punched him in the back of the head, and he fell down.” When he woke up “he as completely naked, and his hands were tied with altar boy sashes.” The priest then anally raped him, and supposedly “made him suck all the blood off of his penis.”
Other lurid details followed.
Gallagher’s brutal tales even caught the attention of now disgraced Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely who included the “Billy Doe” story in a mammoth 2011 story called “The Catholic Church’s Secret Sex-Crime Files.” Erdely is the one who reported the story, now retracted and under multiple law suits, about the gang rape hoax at a University of Virginia fraternity house. Erdely reported that the boy was “passed around” from priest to priest who “raped and sodomized the 10-year-old, sometimes making him perform stripteases or getting him drunk on sacramental wine after Mass.”
It turns out that all of Gallagher’s charges very well might be lies told by a sociopath.
Besides the multiple criminal convictions that led to the jailing of the priests, the teacher and the administrator, Gallagher filed a civil suit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the individuals convicted of the alleged crimes. Newsweek reports that the Archdiocese settled late last summer for $5 million.
The individual civil suits were still in play, however, and the court ordered a forensic psychiatric evaluation of Gallagher which was obtained by Newsweek reporter Ralph Cipriano who concludes, “Judging from [the report], Billy Doe has as much credibility as Jackie [the now disgraced UVA accuser].”
Cipriano reports that Dr. Stephen Mechanick gave Gallagher the “Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test known as the MMPI-2.” In his report about Gallagher, Mechanick writes,
The client is apparently immature and self-indulgent, manipulating others to his own ends…. He refuses to accept responsibility for his problems. He may have an exaggerated or grandiose idea of his own capabilities and personal worth. He is likely to be hedonistic and may overuse alcohol or drugs. He appears to be quite impulsive, and he may act out against others without considering the consequences…. Paranoid features and externalization of blame are likely to be present…. His manipulative and self-serving behavior may cause great difficulties for people close to him…. An individual with this profile is usually viewed as having a Personality Disorder, probably a Paranoid or Passive-Aggressive Personality. Symptoms of a delusional disorder are prominent in his clinical pattern.
The psychiatrist concludes Gallagher lied about a great deal including his drug abuse, psychiatric history, and “his personal and medical background.” He lied about being a paramedic and a professional surfer.
Even more damning, the psychiatrist concluded Gallagher provided “conflicting and unreliable information” on the sexual abuse that sent two priest to prison, one to die there. “It is not possible to conclude to a reasonable degree of psychiatric certainty that Mr. Gallagher was sexually abused as a child,” he writes.
Newsweek reports that the psychiatrist is not the only person who has questioned the veracity of Gallagher. The lead detective at the time has “disturbing doubts” because during the investigation Gallagher was nonresponsive, “claimed he was high on drugs” or “told a different story.”
Gallagher’s stories kept changing. Where he first reported the five-hour rape after the morning Mass, he later testified “he and priest had engaged in mutual masturbation and oral sex.”
What’s more, it is now doubtful that Gallagher had ever served at the 6:15 a.m. Mass. His mother kept meticulous notes about his schedule and that Mass never appears in her notes. It is also doubtful his helicopter mother would have allowed her small child to walk nearly a mile in the cold and dark to serve at Mass and then afterward sit outside his school until it opened more than an hour later.
Where he first said he had been punched in the head and woke up naked and tied with sashes, in later testimony “he dropped the punch in the head, as well as the claims about being tied up with altar sashes, smacked in the face and forced to suck blood.”
Besides being accused of being “an habitual liar,” Gallagher is a multiple drug abuser who has been in and out of jail. He now lives in Florida with a new wife and a $5 million bank account, thanks to the Catholics of Philadelphia.
Father Engelhardt died in prison strapped to a gurney and not allowed medical attention. Now-former priest Avery is still in prison, as is the teacher Shero. Monsignor Lynn is still there, too, though judges and prosecutors have fought for his release.
Once the damning forensic psychiatric report on Gallagher was released and on the eve of jury selection, Gallagher’s lawyers dropped the civil charges against the surviving accused.
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse