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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 31, 2022

Former Catholic Priest Sentenced for Making False Statements in Connection With Church Sex Abuse Investigation

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Robert Brennan, 83, of Perryville, MD, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Anita B. Brody to five years of probation, the first two years of which will be served on home confinement with location monitoring, for lying to investigators about not knowing a former parishioner and victim of sexual abuse.

In November 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to 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 in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia. 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.

“Holding people accountable for their actions, within the confines of the criminal justice process, is a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “With this sentence handed down today, we hope it brings a sense of justice and closure to this case.”

“Lying to the FBI is more than a mistake and beyond a bad choice,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Doing so poses a direct threat to investigations, prosecutions — our entire system of justice. Such ramifications make it a crime for which there have to be some consequences, with violators held appropriately accountable.”  

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.

Contact: 
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA 615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250 Philadelphia, PA 19106 JENNIFER CRANDALL Media Contact 215-861-8300 If you have not done so already, follow @USAO_EDPA and @USAttyWilliams on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information about big cases and community news.
Updated March 31, 2022