Bernard Shero, 54, was released after serving 4 years, 6 months, and two weeks in jail for crimes that are now believed to have never happened. While Shero has been released 11 ½ years early, the charges are not entirely dismissed. Instead, Shero pled no contest to less serious child rape and assault charges rather than facing a new trial. In the new decision, he was sentenced to the four years in prison he has already served.
George Bochetto, Shero’s attorney, has been quoted saying he was “deeply, deeply concerned with the way the prosecution took place in this matter.” This quote was in response to the accuser that helped convict three other church officials. Retired Joseph Walsh had worked on the case for the district attorney’s office. During the investigation, Walsh had told prosecutors several times that he could not corroborate the accuser’s story but reports being dismissed. One assistant district attorney had even told Walsh that he was killing the case.
Prosecutors have not commented on the ruling or plea due to “ongoing litigation in related cases.” Additionally, all attempts by AP to reach the accuser and his family were unsuccessful. Further, a representative for the Philadelphia archdiocese was not available for comment.
Jeffrey Ogren, another lawyer on Shero’s legal defense team, said prosecutors had agreed to a sentence equal to the time already served, and in exchange, Shero would plead no contest. Ogren felt the options were “staying in jail for 11 and a half years or pleading no contest and getting out today.” The accusation against Shero was the accuser’s seemingly falsified account of being sexually assaulted by Shero and two priests in the late 1990s when he was an altar boy and had settled claims against the church in an undisclosed agreement outside of court.
This new judgment came after a half-hour teleconference between the prison and Judge Ceisler’s courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia. While Shero was able to walk out of the State Correctional Institution in Houtzdale, he is still required to register as a sex offender as often as four times a year and has given up his rights to a new trial or any other appeals that may have been filed. Shero will also be on probation for the next 10 years for crimes he has not committed.
Further details on the case can be found here:
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime you have not committed, contact us at Bochetto & Lentz today to find out your legal options.