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Philadelphia Monsignor Guilty of Endangerment in Child Abuse Case

Philadelphia Monsignor Guilty of Endangerment in Child Abuse Case
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Monsignor William J. Lynn, a former archbishop’s aide in Philadelphia, was found guilty of one count of endangering the welfare of children in a sex abuse case. Lynn is now the highest-ranking official of the US Roman Catholic Church convicted in the priest sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the Church for the past several years, cost billions of dollars in settlements and bankrupted several dioceses.

Lynn, an aide to the late and powerful Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua who died in January, was acquitted on two additional counts, a conspiracy charge and a second count of endangerment. He has been on leave from the Church since his arrest in 2012. After the monsignor’s conviction was announced, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of the Common Pleas Court revoked his bail and he was led from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies after removing his black clerical jacket. Lynn could face three and a half to seven years in prison.

As the secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004 in Philadelphia, the US’s sixth largest archdiocese of 1.5 million, Lynn was responsible for some 800 priests. Recommending priest assignments and investigating sexual abuse were among his responsibilities. But prosecutors charged that Lynn had knowingly reassigned predatory priests to parishes and downplayed credible accusations, thereby neither doing enough to keep potential molesters away from children and never notifying law enforcement.

“Smoking Gun”: List of Predatory Priests Kept in Locked Safe

A twelve-member jury deliberated for thirteen days over reams of evidence. But what the New York Times called the “smoking gun” was a list written by Lynn in 1994 with the names of about three dozen active priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. Testimony revealed that, after seeing the list, Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered that all copies be shredded. In February, lawyers for the archdiocese presented a “frayed folder including a copy of the list, saying it had been found in a locked safe.”

One of the names on the list was that of the former Rev. Edward V. Avery. After an abuse incident, Avery spent six months in a church psychiatric facility in 1993 and doctors said that he should be kept away from children and receive “close follow-up care.” Lynn allowed Avery to live in a parish rectory. In 1999, Avery was convicted of sexual assault after an incident of sexual abuse with a 10-year-old altar boy. But Avery was not removed from the ministry until 2003 and remained a priest until 2006. He was to be tried with Lynn but pleaded guilty to the assault just before the trial and was sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years in prison.

Lynn’s protection of Avery was the case behind his conviction of children endangerment. The jury was deadlocked about the two other counts against him: Both of these involved the Rev. James J. Brennan who was charged attempted rape and endangerment. The defense challenged the credibility of Brennan’s accused, who has a criminal record and who had accused Brennan of trying to rape him when he was 14 years old in 1994. Judge Sarmina declared a mistrial in Brennan’s case.

A Victory For Victims and Their Advocates

Victims’ rights advocates, who have long argued that senior church officials should be charged with crimes for covering up for priests with histories of sexual abuse, have hailed Lynn’s conviction as a victory.

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71 comments

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10:01AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

He got off easy.

7:37AM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

It is such a disgrace that grown folks that are put in leadership roles in order to make us a better person are using their authority to abuse children. These are just the lowest of the low and how sad that as parents we send our children out not knowing and trusting these figures of authority to be abused by these monsters in an effort to make them a better human beings... Sad but these priests and the ones that cover up for them should all be put in jail and they need to be made accountable for thier actions.

6:30AM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

@Juliet D. I must agree, tip of the iceberg and they will never get them all, right?

6:21AM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

noted

7:59PM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Good for you Grace, they should have lost their tax exemption the first time it was discovered they had covered up for a child abuser.

4:06PM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

He should jailed! He is as guilty as the abusers themselves.

8:00AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

If true justice were to be had, then the top leadership of the the Catholic Church and other religious institutions would all be in prison now. Their vast wealth hidden away in the guise of "the Church" would be taken away to help pay to heal their victims. We only hear about boys being molested these days because of the right wing anti-gay propaganda and society's higher valuation of males. Thousands of girls and women have been and are still molested by "men of god" and barely a peep is heard in the news. The number of female victims still outweighs male victims numberwise although the horror done to both is equally terrible. Justice still favors males over females in our judicial system. Still the "church" claims moral superiority and seeks to politically reduce the female population back to chattel. Time to tax the pr**ks and take their toys away then put them in prison!

6:37AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

The words immoral, corrupt and evil come mind when church leaders right up to the Pope deliberately "hide" paedophiles. They become accessories to a crime by their actions so will they too be brought to justice?

1:04AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Looks like it's open season on Catholics today.

7:02PM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

Well Said, Anne. I know alot of awesome Catholics who share the progressive and liberal values that Jesus taught. It is sad that these bad priests who hurt children, and those who are mixing politics with religion are putting a black mark on the Catholic faith. Religion can be used for the good, such as churches helping with Habitat for Humanity, but it can also be abused by hurting children in the example of the priests, or by promoting hatred against the GLBT community. I am proud of my Episcopal faith which promotes love and acceptance along with helping Habitat for Humanity, local food pantries and more while having FUN as a loving parish family. I grew up in a Catholic parish like that, but sadly, it was closed and at that time I switched to the nearby Episcopal Church and I have been happy ever since.

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