Priest’s conviction hailed as victory for all children abused by priests. About time some of these monsters get in front of juries. It’s a start at least.

Priest’s conviction hailed as victory for all children abused by priests

By John P. Martin and Joseph A. Slobodzian / The Philadelphia Inquirer  |   Saturday, June 23, 2012  |  |  Northeast

Photo by AP

PHILADELPHIA — A jury convicted Msgr. William J. Lynn of child endangerment Friday, finding that as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia secretary for clergy, he ignored credible warning signs about a priest who later sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy.

The verdict, after a three-month trial, marked the first time since the clergy sex-abuse scandal erupted a decade ago that a Catholic Church supervisor has been found criminally liable for child-sex crimes by a priest.

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina immediately revoked Lynn’s bail, and deputy sheriffs escorted the white-haired monsignor to a holding cell. Lynn faces up to seven years in prison, and prosecutors vowed to seek a term near the maximum.

The jury of seven men and five women acquitted Lynn on two other counts and deadlocked on attempted-rape and child-endangerment charges against his co-defendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan.

District Attorney Seth Williams said his office would review the evidence before deciding whether to retry Brennan, who was accused of trying to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Williams and activists hailed Lynn’s conviction as an unprecedented victory for thousands of children who were abused by priests over decades.

“This monumental case in many ways will change the way business is done in many institutions — be they religious institutions, educational institutions, day camps — where people will not protect predators,” Williams said.

Lynn, 61, sat stone-faced with his eyes cast downward when jurors read their verdict after nearly 13 days of deliberations. His family members sobbed in the courtroom’s front rows as he took off his black clerical blazer, spoke briefly to his lawyers, and ambled through a side door to a cell.

The lawyers, Thomas Bergstrom and Jeffrey Lindy, said that they would petition the judge on Monday to release Lynn on house arrest, and that they expected to appeal the conviction.

“He’s upset. He’s crushed,” Lindy told reporters. “He didn’t want to do anything other than help kids.”

The verdict followed years of investigation and a trial that put a spotlight on thousands of confidential church records and decades of complaints of child-sex abuse by priests in the Philadelphia region. Many were locked away in the archdiocese’s secret archives, files that cataloged decades of misconduct allegations against priests.

At the center was Lynn, the former aide to Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua who emerged as a primary target during two grand jury investigations over the last decade.

As clergy secretary from 1992 to 2004, Lynn was the administrator the cardinal tapped to investigate the complaints, and recommend treatment or assignments for accused priests.

Prosecutors asserted that his job became more about protecting the church than protecting children. Lynn, they said, lied to some victims, never sought out others, and, in a few cases, suggested to priests that they may have been seduced by their young accusers.

Jurors found Lynn guilty of endangerment for letting Edward Avery, then a parish priest, live and celebrate Mass at St. Jerome Church in Northeast Philadelphia in the mid-1990s.

The evidence showed that Lynn knew Avery had abused a teen boy he met at a Montgomery County parish in the 1970s. In 1994, Lynn included Avery on a list of 13 priests he deemed “guilty of sexual misconduct with minors.”

But instead of being removed, Avery was treated at a church-owned hospital and reassigned to hospital chaplaincy. He was allowed to live in the rectory at St. Jerome, a sprawling parish with an elementary school.

In 1999, Avery twice sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy at the church. Defrocked in 2006, Avery pleaded guilty to the assault in March.

The onetime altar boy, now 23, was one of nearly 20 alleged victims who testified at the trial. Most described, often in graphic and tearful testimony, how their parish priests had groped, molested or raped them when they were young and how the abuse shaped and in some cases ruined their lives.

In a disputed ruling, the judge let prosecutors introduce evidence about nearly two dozen other priests who weren’t charged or represented in the case. The prosecutors argued that it was necessary for jurors to understand how Lynn’s decisions reflected a long-standing pattern or practice by church leaders. But the effect was weeks of testimony that seemed to put the church itself on trial.

Jurors weren’t necessarily convinced of a larger plot. They acquitted Lynn of conspiring with Avery or others.

“This was not about the Catholic Church — this was about what people did,” said Isa Logan, a 35-year-old bank worker from West Philadelphia who served as jury foreman.

Lynn’s lawyers noted that he was acquitted on three of the original four charges against him. (The judge had ruled another conspiracy count unproven during the trial.)

And they held to their argument that he was being made a scapegoat for decisions and failings of his bosses, notably Bevilacqua, who ultimately approved or rejected Lynn’s recommendations involving priests’ assignments.

They pointed to a handwritten note found weeks before trial suggesting that the cardinal directed his top deputies to shred Lynn’s list of abusive priests.

During three days of sometimes combative testimony, Lynn insisted he had done more than any other church official to remove predator priests. “I did my best with what I could do,” Lynn testified.

Prosecutors never denied that others were equally culpable, and grilled Bevilacqua during a private deposition two months before his death in January. The other church officials implicated in the shredding, Bishops Joseph R. Cistone and Edward P. Cullen, were not called as witnesses.

Williams would not say whether they, or others, might still face prosecution.

“Many members of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia had dirty hands,” the district attorney said in his first public comments since the judge lifted a yearlong gag order. “My job is to find people we can prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Brennan, who has been on restricted ministry since his accuser filed a complaint in 2006, said he was relieved by the outcome. His attorney, William J. Brennan, no relation, maintained that the priest, who was the subject of a single accusation, should never have been tried with Lynn.

Lynn has been living with relatives in Reading, Pa., since being suspended last year from his post as pastor of St. Joseph in Downingtown. His lawyers said the judge’s decision to imprison the monsignor immediately — Avery was allowed to remain free on bail for 10 days after admitting to abusing the altar boy — was disproportionately unfair and legally flawed.

Lynn has attended every hearing for a year, and has no criminal history or even a passport, Lindy said.

“He has been living under the sword of Damocles for a decade or more,” said the lawyer. “He is not going anywhere. He knew this day could come.”

That argument enraged Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, the prosecution leader who in the final weeks of the trial — and as deliberations continued for weeks — repeatedly exploded at Lynn and a defense team he liked to point out was being paid by the church.

Blessington argued the evidence showed that Lynn was arrogant and contemptuous of the criminal justice system, and that he lied to victims, investigators, grand jurors, and the jurors at trial.

“Treat him like the criminal he now is,” Blessington told the judge. “This is a case that is going to call for a lengthy jail sentence. Let’s start it today. Today, to jail. That’s justice.”

The trial drew worldwide attention, and scarred tens of thousands of Philadelphia-area Catholics and their clergy. The investigation that led to Lynn’s conviction also prompted the archdiocese to remove five active priests for past sexual misconduct with minors, suspend 17 others while it reviewed claims against them, and revamp its policies for handling abuse complaints.

In a statement after the verdict, the archdiocese said it was on “a journey of renewal” and reform. “The lessons of the last year have made our church a more vigilant guardian of our people’s safety,” it read.

Advocate groups such as the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests and praised the verdict and its potential impact.

“Because of the Lynn verdict, bishops and church officials are now accountable — they are no longer immune from judgment and punishment,” said Terence McKiernan, president of

Two men arrested in February 2011 with Lynn, Avery and Brennan face September trials. The Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former schoolteacher Bernard Shero are accused of molesting the same altar boy at St. Jerome, but were granted separate trials because neither was supervised by Lynn. Engelhardt belongs to the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, an independent religious order.

The archdiocese, Lynn and others have been named in at least nine lawsuits filed by alleged abuse victims since the case broke. Most of those suits incorporated the grand jury findings on Lynn and the church, and will now rely on the thousands of previously secret documents aired publicly at the trial.

The verdict “has set a pathway and a standard for prosecutors across the United States,” said Marci Hamilton and Jeffrey Anderson, lawyers for seven plaintiffs.


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20 thoughts on “Priest’s conviction hailed as victory for all children abused by priests. About time some of these monsters get in front of juries. It’s a start at least.

  1. Penn State,Pedophile Priest cleric enabler and Jehovah’s Witnesses molestation big news same week.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses hit with $28 million sex abuse settlement Oakland,Calif.-Google it.

    Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation.
    It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large.
    These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.
    The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.

    Danny Haszard *tell the truth don’t be afraid*


  2. “Prosecutors asserted that his job became more about protecting the church than protecting children. Lynn, they said, lied to some victims, never sought out others, and, in a few cases, suggested to priests that they may have been seduced by their young accusers.”

    This is what religion is about – protect the “good name of Jesus and his church”. Do not be concerned about the children who are raped and abused.

    Religion is the cause of all vil in this world.


  3. Iemand wat kinders rape word nie beskerm nie – altans nie in my kerk nie. Dink jy ek het enige respek vir so iemand of sal dit geheim hou – dink weer. Dis vieslik – kindermolesteerders verdien die doodstraf. En sy dade het niks met geloof uit te waai nie. Ware Christene molesteer nie kinders nie. En moenie Christene verwar met “kerklui” nie.

    “Jeffrey Dahmer, an infamous serial killer and atheist sentenced to 900 years in prison, said “if a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges?”. He brutally killed seventeen men and boys, dismembering them, storing their parts and indulging in cannibalism and necrophilia. In 1991, he was caught by the police after one of his would-be victims escaped. Despite pleading not guilty on the basis on insanity, the court found him sane and fully accountable. He later expressed remorse.”

    So nou ja, deur jou eie logika beteken dit nou dat ateisme eintlik die “cause of all evil in this world is”.

    Julle ouens redeneer soos julle gatte …


    • “So nou ja, deur jou eie logika beteken dit nou dat ateisme eintlik die “cause of all evil in this world is””.

      Nee glad nie, Analfa. Ateïsme het nog geen oorlog veroorsaak nie. Geloof se paadjie lê vervuil van die oorloë wat dit deur die eeue geveg het en onskuldige mense dood gemaak het in die naam van julle god, Jesus. Kyk hoe word kinders vandag nog verkrag in die naam van julle liewe Jesus. Nee, dit is geloof wat die smet op die mensdom gebring het. Ons mense wat nie in julle liewe Jesus glo nie, probeer die kinders red van julle aaklige kloue. En moet nou nie jouself distansieer van die kinderverkragters nie – julle glo beide aan liewe Jesus.. Jy is deel van die pakket wat daarmee saam gaan.


        • Jy kan altyd ophou om met my te praat, Analfa, soos jy in die verlede gedoen het. Net soos jy in ‘n hoek gedryf word, vat jy mos die maklike uitkoms, of hoe? (Soos om jou speelgoed weg te vat van die kinders wat “lelik” is met jou.)


          • Dis net later vervelig om dieselfde afgesaagde ou goed oor en oor en oor en oor te hoor. Is jy regtig so damn stupid dat jy nie verskil kan sien tussen gelowige en kinderverkragters nie? Ek meen, please man, kom op met iets meer oorspronkliks! Dis nie so moeilik nie. Ten minste is ek nie so bloody skynheilig soos jy om te dink ek’s perfek nie – ek besef die onderskeid tussen ‘n ateis en ‘n kinderverkragter. Die tipe stront wat jy kwytraak om Christene mee te probeer diskrediteer is lagwekkend – wys net jou argument is nie baie solid nie. En ek’s nie lus om heeltyd energie hieraan te wy nie.


            • ” Die tipe stront wat jy kwytraak om Christene mee te probeer diskrediteer is lagwekkend”

              Mens hoof nie stront kwyt te raak om julle godbots te diskrediteer nie. Julle diskrediteer julle self want om aan iets te glo en te klou wat glad nie bestaan nie, is mos lagwekkend, of nie?


    • Julle godbots hou aan hammer op ‘n noot dat ateïsme Hitler se gruweldade veroorsaak het. lees bietjie hierdie deur PZ Myers geskryf.

      From: Pharyngula 17/12/2009

      Was evolution a significant and essential factor in guiding Nazi thought?
      No. First of all, as has already been established courtesy of searching through Mein Kampf in detail, Hitler’s assorted eructations on nature reproduce well-known creationist canards, including the static species fallacy, and Hitler also asserted that fertile, viable hybrids were inpossible, which is manifestly refuted by this scientific paper (among many others):
      Speciation By Hybridisation In Heliconius Butterflies, by Jesús Mavárez, Camilo A. Salazar, Eldredge Bermingham, Christian Salcedo, Chris D. Jiggins and Mauricio Linares, Nature, 441: 868-871 (15th June 2006)
      Also, even an elementary search of Mein Kampf reveals the following statistics. The number of instances of key words are as follows:
      “Darwin” : ZERO
      “Almighty” : 6
      “God” : 37
      “Creator” : 8
      Hitler was inspired by the anti-Semitic ravings of one Lanz von Liebenfels, who was a defrocked monk, and whose magnum opus bore the Pythonesque title of Theozoology, Or The Account Of The Sodomite Apelings And The Divine Electron. This was in effect a warped Biblical exegesis, which rewrites the Crucifixion story, and also contains a mediaeval bestiary replete with instances of Liebenfels’ florid imagination.
      Additionally, the Nazis placed textbooks on evolutionary biology on their list of seditious books to be burned, as illustrated nicely here, where we learn that in 1935, Nazi guidelines with respect to seditious books included:
      6. Schriften weltanschaulichen und lebenskundlichen Charakters, deren Inhalt die falsche naturwissenschaftliche Aufklärung eines primitiven Darwinismus und Monismus ist (Häckel).
      Translated into English, this reads:
      Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel)
      The evidence is therefore conclusive. Nazism was not inspired by evolution, and indeed, much of Hitler’s own writings are creationist in tone. The Nazis destroyed evolutionary textbooks as seditious (much as modern day creationists would love to), and the Nazi view of the biosphere is wholly at variance with genuine evolutionary theory, involving fatuous views of race “purification” by the establishment of monocultures that are the very antithesis of genuine evolutionary thought, which relies upon genetic diversity.


        • Analfa, gaan doen ‘n bietjie jou huiswerk deeglik oor Hitler se geloof in liewe Jesus. Hy was miskien nie so ‘n goeie gristen soos onse Analfa nie, maar dat hy in liewe Jesus geglo het is ‘n feit. Hitler het beslis nie in Evolusie geglo nie – die Nazi’s het boeke oor die evolusie teorie dan verbrand.


          • Weet jy, ek dog eintlik jy sou bly wees oor ou Hitler? Hulle het nou wel die evolusieboeke verbrand, maar die 2de wereld oorlog het baie van die wetenskaplike breakthroughs tot gevolg gehad waaroor jy vandag so rave, en die koue oorlog het ook die wetenskap aangehelp. Net jammer miljoene der miljoene mense moes met hulle lewens daarvoor boet – pla dit jou hoegenaamd? Volgens jou is hulle mos nou maar net weer stof – mense met geen siele nie.


            • Analfa, dit is nie die wetenskap wat die gruweldade doen nie, dis mense. Die wetenskap verduidelik net die Natuur waarin ons lewe. En julle godbots sê liewe Jesus het die mens gemaak na sy eie beeld – dit was maar ‘n kak job, of nie?


              • Goed dan, dis nie die wetenskap wat so gruwelik is nie, dis die natuur. Ek sien jy skryf dit met ‘n hoofletter asof jy dit dieselfde respek wil gee as wat God toekom?!? Dan’s die “natuur” mos te blameer vir die wêreldoorloë – mense is mos maar net robotte wat deur die natuur beheer word.

                Maar, sonder dat jy besef, slaan jy die hamer op die kop – dis mense wat die gruweldade doen – dis nie God of “die natuur” se skuld nie. Jy’s vinnig om vinger te wys na God wanneer mense fouteer, maar nou hou jy nie daarvan as ek die parallel deurtrek na jou “Natuur” toe nie – want dit sal beteken dat ateisme verantwoordelik is vir alles wat verkeerd gaan in die wereld. After all, ateiste sweer by die wetenskap, wat op sy beurt weer die wrede natuur beskryf.

                So vra jouself of die “Natuur” nie eerder die swak job doen nie?


                • “..asof jy dit dieselfde respek wil gee as wat God toekom?!?”

                  God(e) kry geen respek van my nie want dit/hulle bestaan nie. Ek het ook geen respek vir groot mense wat nog in spoke glo nie.

                  “Dan’s die “natuur” mos te blameer vir die wêreldoorloë”

                  Nee, Analfa, nie die Natuur nie, maar die mens wat die kragte van die Natuur gebruik om mekaar te vernietig. Elektrisiteit is ‘n onmisbare natuurkrag. As jy jouself doodskok is dit nie die “euwele elektromagnetiese krag” nie, maar jou domheit.

                  “Jy’s vinnig om vinger te wys na God wanneer mense fouteer,”

                  Nee, ek wys glad nie die vinger na jou god nie, want hy bestaan nie. Ek wys my vinger na julle godbots wat in hersenskimme glo.

                  “ .. want dit sal beteken dat ateisme verantwoordelik is vir alles wat verkeerd gaan in die wereld.”

                  Hoe op aarde kom jy by hierdie gevolgtrekking uit? Is dit “die logika according to Analfa?”

                  “After all, ateiste sweer by die wetenskap, wat op sy beurt weer die wrede natuur beskryf.”

                  Ateïste sweer glad nie noodwedig “by die wetenskap” nie. Ateïste verwerp net die konsep van die bestaan van enige god(e) (Behalwe natuurlik Batgod.) Die Natuur het niks met ateïsme te doen nie.


                  • Ag please man, evolusie is jou god – dis baie duidelik. Jy aanbind die wetenskap. Die natuur is jou afgod.


                    • Nog ‘n juweeltjie deur Analfa. Jy verbaas my elke keer as jy vir ons wys dat jy nog dommer kan wees as die llaste keer wat jy iets hier geskryf het. Siestog!


                    • Analfa, jy het ‘n basiese gebrek om te verstaan wat sekere woorde (begrippe) beteken.

                      “Evolusie is jou god.”

                      Dit beteken ek aanbid evolusie. Nee, jy is verkeerd. Ek verstaan die veduideliking van die teorie van evolusie. Dit maak sin vir my, die wetenskaplike bewyse bevestig die teorie en daarom aanvaar ek die teorie. Ek aanbid dit glad nie.

                      Julle het geen bewys van die bestaan van julle gode nie maar desnieteenstaande aanbid julle hierdie spoke. Julle is mal!

                      “Jy aanbid die wetenskap.”

                      Glad nie. Die wetenskap verklaar die Natuur waarin ons lewe. Die verklarings maak sin en ek aanvaar dit. Hoekom? Want die natuurwette word ingespan in ons daaglikse lewe en dit werk. TV, elektrisiteit, ens., ens.

                      Julle gode werk nie want julle bid tot hulle en niks gebeur nie. Maar julle bly hierdie gode aanbid. Julle is mal!


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