Philadelphia priest gets bail after abuse cover-up conviction reversed

PHILADELPHIA Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:59pm EST

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) - A Philadelphia judge on Monday set bail at $250,000 for a senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official whose conviction in a high-profile child sex abuse case was overturned last week.

Monsignor William Lynn, 62, was convicted in June 2012 of endangering the welfare of a child for reassigning a priest with a history of sex abuse to a Philadelphia parish that was unaware of his past.

That priest, Edward Avery, later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in the Philadelphia parish.

Lynn, who was not accused of molesting children himself, was the first high-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be found guilty of covering up allegations of molestation by a priest. Lynn was secretary of clergy for the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1994 to 2004,

Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina ordered Lynn to surrender his passport, wear an ankle-monitoring bracelet and check in weekly with authorities as part of the conditions of his release from state prison. He is expected to be released from prison later this week, attorneys in the case said.

An appeals court overturned Lynn's conviction on December 26, saying there had not been enough evidence to convict him. The appeals panel also rejected arguments that Lynn had been legally responsible for the welfare of the abused boy in the late 1990s.

Lynn's attorneys had argued on appeal that the law he was prosecuted under was not in place at the time of the crimes.

"Let's be clear, William Lynn is no patsy, he is no fall guy," District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement, indicating his office would appeal the reversal of Lynn's conviction.

"He is a cold, calculating man who endangered the welfare of countless children for decades by moving known predators throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," Williams said.

Lynn's attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, said Monday that it would likely take until Thursday before arrangements for payment of the bail and monitoring are made. He said he does not know where Lynn will live when he is released from prison.

"The single charge that he was convicted of has now been reversed," Bergstrom said outside the courtroom. "He's probably going to have to spend much of his time in the Philadelphia area, which is fine."

Lynn was not in the courtroom Monday.

A victim's support group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said they were disappointed Lynn was granted bail.

"Msgr. Lynn's callousness, recklessness and deceit caused kids to be hurt and predators to walk free. We hope that Pennsylvania's highest court will re-instate his conviction," the group said in a statement.

(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Leslie Adler)

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Comments (3)
blooper1 wrote:
It was considerate of the appeals court
to legitimize the Adolph Eichmann defense;
e.g. I was only following orders.

Dec 30, 2013 2:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
blooper1 wrote:
It was considerate of the appeals court
to legitimize the Adolph Eichmann defense;
e.g. I was only following orders.

Dec 30, 2013 2:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
WhyMeLord wrote:
I am sick and tired of some judge overturning the decision of some other judge who overturned the decision of some other judge, etc.
Judges are just people; however, they suffer from being lawyers at heart, and lawyers have a way of bending the law to suit themselves.
Once a decision on a law and/or conviction has been made, the hammer should fall, and the case closed forever. All this second-guessing is just making the rich richer, and the justice system bogged down.
Lynn is as guilty as they come, and setting him free is a mistake.
God did not go on vacation and leave Judge Teresa Sarmina in charge;
far from it, her judgment day will come soon enough, and Karma wins.
Lynn will face his judgment from the “Big Guy” as well; good luck.

Dec 30, 2013 5:15pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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