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Press Release

Former Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements in Connection With An Investigation Into Church Sex Abuse

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Robert Brennan, 83, of Perryville, MD, pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Anita B. Brody to lying to investigators about not knowing a former parishioner and victim of sexual abuse.

In September 2019, the defendant was charged by Indictment with four counts of making materially false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the United States government. The charges stem from an interview conducted in April 2019, during which Brennan was questioned by the FBI and made a number of false statements. Brennan had served in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1993 to 2004 as a priest at Resurrection of Our Lord parish (“Resurrection”).  In September 2013, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against him, alleging that he had sexually abused a minor, Sean McIlmail, during Brennan’s time at Resurrection.  Soon thereafter, in October 2013, Sean McIlmail died of a drug overdose and the criminal charges against Brennan were dismissed.

In November 2013, the McIlmail family filed a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Brennan.  The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount in May 2018. During the April 2019 interview with the FBI, Brennan made several false statements, including that prior to the filing of the 2013 criminal case and civil lawsuit against him, he did not know Sean McIlmail, his father, mother or brother.

“Making false statements to the FBI is a serious crime that threatens the integrity of our justice system, and we will hold offenders accountable no matter who they are,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle L. Morgan.


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Updated November 10, 2021