Who bailed them out?

That's a question some churchgoers have wondered aloud since four priests and a former schoolteacher were freed last Friday after being charged in the latest case of child sex abuse.

According to city bail records, three of the defendants appeared to be bailed out by relatives with cash or credit cards. One paid his own way with a charge card. And the last relied on another priest to bail him out.

The bail system is designed to ensure criminal defendants show up for trial.

If they aren't considered a flight risk or a danger to the community, many defendants are freed after posting 10 percent of the bail total as a surety. If they abscond, the person who bailed them out is liable for the entire amount.

A Philadelphia grand jury accused former schoolteacher Bernard Shero and the Revs. Charles Englehardt and Edward V. Avery of molesting the same boy at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philadelphia in the late 1990s. A third priest, James J. Brennan, was indicted on charges he raped a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

The last priest, the Mgsr. William Lynn, who was in charge of assigning archdiocesan priests, faces endangerment charges for allegedly tolerating and protecting the abusive priests.

Lynn's bail was the lowest, $25,000 each on two separate charges. His brother, James J. Lynn, posted the $2,500 in cash for each, city bail records show.

Brennan's brother, Daniel Brennan, used a credit card to post 10 percent of his $95,000 bail, the records show. Shero's bail was identical, and a woman named Bonita Shero paid $9,500 cash to free him.Avery, who was defrocked in 2006, used his own credit card to post his bail.

The records show that Englehardt's bail - 10 percent of $50,000 - was posted by another priest, the Rev. Thomas Gallagher. It was not clear where Gallagher lives or his ties to the defendant. Gallagher charged the $5,000 to his credit card.

Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 215-854-4774 or at jmartin@phillynews.com.