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Struggling jury pauses in Philadelphia church sex abuse trial
June 20, 2012 / 9:06 PM / in 5 years

Struggling jury pauses in Philadelphia church sex abuse trial

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The jury in the child sex abuse case of Philadelphia Monsignor William Lynn ended its 12th day of deliberations on Wednesday with no verdict after saying it was deadlocked on most of the charges in the trial of the Roman Catholic clergyman.

Monsignor William Lynn (C) walks to the courthouse as the jury deliberates on his sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 20, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Lynn, 61, the highest-ranking U.S. church official to stand trial in the church’s pedophilia scandal, is accused of conspiracy and child endangerment.

Deliberations were punctuated by a note from the jury at midday in which it said it was “at a hung jury status on all charges except for one.”

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina sent the jurors back to continue trying to reach a verdict. “I don’t know what the problem is,” the judge said to the prosecutors and defense attorneys after the jury left the courtroom.

Lynn, who faces one charge of conspiracy and two charges of child endangerment, oversaw hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Prosecutors say he covered up child sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes.

Also on trial is the Reverend James Brennan, accused of child endangerment and attempted rape of a 14-year-old in 1996.

In its note, the jury did not indicate which charge it had decided upon or which ones were stuck in a deadlocked vote.

The jury was due to take Thursday off and resume on Friday morning. It has heard ten weeks of testimony and began deliberating on June 1.

If convicted, Lynn faces the possibility of 21 years in prison. Prosecutors say his motive was to avoid scandal and any potential loss of donations to the archdiocese, the sixth largest in the United States with 1.5 million members.

The defense said Lynn tried to handle documented cases of pedophile priests, making a list in 1994 of 35 accused predators and writing memos to suggest treatment and suspensions.

It said Lynn was hampered because he could make only recommendations to the head of the archdiocese, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in January at age 88.

Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst, Will Dunham and Jackie Frank

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