Monsignor headed back to prison on child endangerment charge

1 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Judge To Decide If Monsignor William Lynn Remains On House Arrest Or Returns To Prison.

A Roman Catholic church official was sent back to prison Thursday after the state Supreme Court reinstated his 2012 child endangerment conviction over his handling of priest sexual abuse complaints. Monsignor William Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy at the Philadelphia archdiocese, is the first U.S. church official ever prosecuted or convicted in the clergy abuse scandal. He spent about 18 months in prison, but has been on house arrest since early 2014, living in a Northeast Philadelphia rectory after Superior Court reversed his conviction. A judge on Thursday agreed that Lynn’s case presented a “novel” issue that she could have gotten wrong when she sent the case to trial: the question of whether Lynn actually “supervised” children under the law in 1998, when the boy at issue in Lynn’s case was molested by a parish priest. The issues raised in Lynn’s case have entangled prosecutors, defense lawyers and at least 10 Pennsylvania judges since 2005, when the city’s top prosecutor blasted the archdiocese after a grand jury investigation into 63 accused priests but concluded the law applied only to parents and caregivers.

Bergstrom says that Superior Court, not Judge Sarmina, should have taken up the bail issue since Superior Court will be deciding other legal and factual appellate issues. “The (Pennsylvania) Supreme Court made a very, very narrow finding — whether or not he’s a supervisor,” Bergstrom says. “She’s missed the point, and some of the press have missed the point. A new district attorney felt differently and in 2011 brought charges against Lynn but not against longtime Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in 2012. His conviction has not been affirmed.” Bergstrom says Lynn’s status is that of “an unsentenced, unconvicted person.” He is filing an emergency petition to allow Lynn get out of jail pending further appeals.

Lynn had served half his minimum three-year sentence when the state Superior Court threw out his conviction in December 2013 and ordered him released. She had allowed the jury to hear weeks of agonizing testimony from adults who said they were sexually assaulted by Philadelphia priests to show what prosecutors said was the church’s pattern of transferring predators to unsuspecting parishes and hiding complaints in locked files. Defense lawyers will now challenge other aspects of his trial, especially Sarmina’s decision to let about 20 other church accusers testify about abuse they said they suffered decades ago when their allegations were not directly part of the case.

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