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July 24, 2012

Philadelphia Monsignor gets years in prison for covering up clergy sexual abuse

As reported in this local Philadelphia article, headlined "Msgr. Lynn sentenced to three to six years in prison," today involved a noteworthy sentencing of a notable defendant in a sex abuse scandal. Here are the basics:

Msgr. William J. Lynn was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in state prison Tuesday by a judge who said he turned a blind eye while "monsters in clerical garb" sexually abused children, devastating families and shaking the Catholic church across Philadelphia and beyond.

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said she believed Lynn was once the kind and selfless parish priest that his suppporters so passionately described. But as the aide Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua tapped to investigate clergy-sex abuse, Lynn instead chose to protect the church over victims, she said. "You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong," she told him.

The sentence, the first for a Catholic leader for enabling clergy sex abuse, fell just short of the maximum seven-year term Philadelphia prosecutors sought. It was hailed by victims and advocates who had complained church officials long eluded justice for accomodating or concealing priests' attacks on children.

Lynn's lawyers wanted a probation or a county jail term, and were disappointed at a sentence they said was disproportionate to the defendant and his crime, a single count of child endangerment. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which paid for Lynn's defense but has been largely silent about his case, also questioned the term. "We hope that when this punishment is objectively reviewed, it will be adjusted," it said in a statement....

Under state guidelines, Lynn will have to serve at least three years in prison before being eligible for parole. Even then, his chances at getting out after serving the minimum could be slim. The state parole board has been reluctant to grant early release to inmates convicted of sex-crimes involving children.

On June 22, a jury found Lynn guilty of endangering children by not removing a priest in the 1990s after discovering the cleric once molested a teen. That priest, Edward Avery, later sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy. The jury acquitted Lynn of two other charges, including that he had conspired with church leaders to endanger children. But Sarmina declared him a risk to flee, revoked his bail and sent him straight to prison.

His sentencing hearing unfolded in a courtroom crammed with representatives from each of the groups touched by a decade of scrutiny on clergy-sex abuse in Philadelphia. They included prosecutors and investigators who long portrayed Lynn as a gatekeeper for the archdiocese.

Evidence they culled from secret church files and produced during his three-month trial showed that Lynn catologued dozens of abuse complaints between 1992 and 2004. But he was often slow to seek out other victims, share information with accusers, or press the cardinal to remove priests who had been accused or even admitted abusing children.

Lynn's relatives, friends and former parishioners also packed several rows in the courtroom, and hundreds more sent letters to the judge, defending him as an undeserving scapegoat for flaws of church leaders. A half-dozen took the stand and, at times tearfully, described the 61-year-old cleric as a kind, caring priest who mentored young clerics, consoled troubled mothers, rushed to the bedside of the dying and, at least later in his career, was vigilant about protecting children.

July 24, 2012 at 07:12 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Ironic. The Church invented the witch hunt. It is now being unfairly scapegoated by an evil feminist witch. That trial and the sentence had the same validity, and used the same methods as the Inquisition. The latter had a business plan that lasted 700 years. Witch hunt people with assets, and take their assets on flimsy gotcha, pretexts.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 24, 2012 9:20:21 PM

Well, the parole board may be reluctant to release people convicted of sex crimes against minors, but that's really not applicable to this case is it? I mean, the rationales are entirely different.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 24, 2012 11:18:18 PM

unfairly?

"...guilty of endangering children by not removing a priest in the 1990s after discovering the cleric once molested..."

Maybe you're a Catholic Atheist.

"...used the same methods as the Inquisition."

How do you reckon the Inquisition extracted recantations and punished heretics?

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 25, 2012 12:51:22 PM

good, people who provide aid and comfort to icky pervs who they know are raping children should wind up in prison with them. hopefully, the penn state officials who let sandusky get away with rape for years will be next.

Posted by: Erika | Jul 25, 2012 4:07:22 PM

Priests buggering little boys and ruining countless, innocent lives or the bishops who protect these priests and move them around to other places where they can continue their predatory destruction of innocents---and these are the same priests and bishops who are so holy and preach to us about the immorality of this or that--shame on them all--prison is not enough punishment for these sanctimonious hypocrites--only hell will do.

Posted by: anon15 | Jul 26, 2012 12:18:38 AM

Causes Comuns jutge de la Cort M. Teresa Sarmina Lynn va dir que creia que era un cop el tipus i la cura de la parròquia desinteressat que els seus suppporters tan apassionadament descriu. Però a mesura que l'ajudant Cardenal Anthony J. Bevilacqua aprofitat per investigar els abusos sexuals del clergat-, Lynn lloc triat per protegir l'església sobre les víctimes, va dir. "Vostè sap molt bé el que era correcte, Monsenyor Lynn, però ha triat malament", li va dir a him.Well, la junta de llibertat condicional poden ser reticents a alliberar les persones condemnades per delictes sexuals contra menors, però que en realitat no és aplicable a aquest cas és que ? Vull dir, les raons són totalment diferents.

Posted by: converse cuir femme | Jul 26, 2012 4:04:42 AM

hmm well erika you will be suprised but i agree with this statement!

"good, people who provide aid and comfort to icky pervs who they know are raping children should wind up in prison with them."

IF you can show they violated any law in doing so!

Of course i also think people who try and get the govt to violate the constitution should be also. I'd prefer they just be SHOT for treason...but you can't have everthing!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 27, 2012 3:13:07 PM

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