Judge denies Philadelphia priest's bid for house arrest

PHILADELPHIA Thu Jul 5, 2012 3:29pm EDT

Monsignor William Lynn walks from the courthouse after the jury finished deliberating for the day in his sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 20, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Monsignor William Lynn walks from the courthouse after the jury finished deliberating for the day in his sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer

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PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Monsignor William Lynn, the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse, was sent back to prison on Thursday after a judge rejected his bid for house arrest.

Family members sobbed in the court gallery after Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina denied Lynn's request to be released to the home of a distant relative in Philadelphia.

The judge did, however, grant his request to move up his sentencing to July 24 from August 13. Lynn, 61, faces up to seven years in prison.

The former secretary of the clergy for the Philadelphia Archdiocese, who was in effect personnel manager for 800 priests, was convicted in June of child endangerment for covering up sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes.

Defense lawyers said the judge, in refusing to release Lynn from jail to wear an ankle bracelet monitor, was treating him unfairly because he is a church official.

"He's upset that he seems to be taking the weight of the church on his shoulders," said defense lawyer Jeff Lindy after the ruling on Thursday.

Lynn, 61, is the highest-ranking church official convicted of covering up sex crimes by priests. He worked for late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, the longtime archbishop of Philadelphia, which is the nation's sixth largest archdiocese with 1.5 million members.

Lynn was charged in the wake of a Philadelphia grand jury report issued in January 2011. In addition to Lynn, three priests, and an ex-diocese school teacher were charged with sex crimes against children, One of the priests, Reverend James Brennan, was tried along with Lynn and faced charges of attempted rape and child endangerment. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the counts against Brennan.

A third priest who was scheduled to go on trial with Lynn and Brennan pleaded guilty at the last minute to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy and is now in jail.

Another priest and the teacher are awaiting trial.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg)

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Comments (3)
JamVee wrote:
So what if he is a church official . . . What he did is criminal and he is nearly as guilty as the child molesters themselves, because he aided and abetted their crimes. It is too bad that he feels he is paying the price for the Church’s wrongdoing . . . , but it was his wrongdoing, that he is paying for. If he didn’t realize what he was doing was wrong, no matter what the Church’s procedures were, his higher education was a total waste of time and money. I was just following orders doesn’t work!

Jul 05, 2012 3:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SNAPJudyJones wrote:
Philadelphia priest, Msgr Lynn, is in jail because brave victims came forward and broke their silence.

This trial and verdict sends a strong message to all church officials around the world that they can no longer get away with enabling and covering up sex crimes against innocent kids.

It is time to start protecting children instead of protecting child predators. The Philadelphia Archdiocese is not unique in how they handle child sex crimes, all other dioceses throughout the world have secret archives and many “bishops are still NOT removing credibly accused predators from their parishes”. Law enforcement needs to be investigating other diocese who are still protecting the predators. Children are still at risk of being sexually abused today.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,)

Jul 05, 2012 4:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bostonpadre wrote:
Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, thank you for a VERY fair and just denial of the request for house arrest. Victims of child (clergy) sexual abuse have lives filled with distrust, anger, resentment, re-victimization, ridicule, shame, depression and so on — there is no “relief.” Lynn did what he did consciously. He COULD have made a decision to follow his conscience and remove himself from the position if he TRULY felt that what was happening was wrong. He did NOT! Thus he has been found guilty of child endangerment. I hope other jurisdictions re-examine their situations and also bring all others to trial who have done the same thing in each and every other (arch)diocese in the county (and beyond.)

Jul 05, 2012 9:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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