Father Robert L. Brennan

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced Wednesday, Oct. 23 that he has dropped charges of charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault against Father Robert L. Brennan.

The charges stemmed from an allegation of sexual abuse by 26-year-old Sean McIlmail, who was found dead from a drug overdose. Williams said McIlmail died over the weekend of Oct. 12-13.

McIlmail reported the allegation of his abuse to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in January 2013 and the archdiocese immediately reported it to the district attorney’s office. That led to Father Brennan’s arrest Sept. 26.


The charges allege that Father Brennan began to abuse McIlmail when he was 11 years old in 1998 until 2001 at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Northeast Philadelphia.

While Father Brennan was featured extensively in the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual abuse by clergy, McIlmail’s allegation was the only one to result in criminal charges against the priest. Thus with the young man’s death, the charges were dropped.

Since his arrest Father Brennan has remained free on bail in his home in Maryland. His faculties to minister or present himself as a priest have been suspended since 2005 and the canon law process continues toward his permanent removal from the clerical state, i.e. laicization.

As part of its policy, the archdiocese urged anyone with information regarding Father Brennan to contact the district attorney’s office at 215-686-8000.

Anyone wishing to make a report of any allegation of sexual abuse should contact a local law enforcement agency and/or the archdiocesan Office of Investigations at 1-888-930-9010. Those wishing to report a violation of the archdiocesan “Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries” may also contact the archdiocesan Office of Investigations.

The archdiocese said it recognized the news of Father Brennan’s arrest may be painful to victims of sexual violence, and offered support or assistance through the Victim Assistance Office of the archdiocese at 1-888-800-8780.

Father Brennan, who was ordained in 1964, has served at the following parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: St. Pius X, Broomall (1964-1970); Our Lady of Calvary, Philadelphia (1970-1974); Stella Maris, Philadelphia (1974-1981); St. George, Glenolden (1981-1986); chaplain, Archbishop Prendergast High School, Drexel Hill (1986); St. Helena, Philadelphia (1986-1988); St. Ignatius of Antioch, Yardley (1988-1989); St. Eleanor, Collegeville (1989); St. Mary, Schwenksville (1989-1992); leave of absence (1992-1993); Resurrection of Our Lord (1993-2004); chaplain, Camilla Hall (2004-2005); ministry restricted and faculties removed (2005).