Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monsignor William Lynn conviction overturned by Pa. court; D.A. 'most likely' to ...

Last updated: Thursday, December 26, 2013, 2:15 PM

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he will most likely appeal the Superior Court's reversal Thursday of the conviction of Monsignor William Lynn. 'I am disappointed and strongly disagree with the court's decision,' Williams said in a statement. 'While we are deciding what our next course of action will be, we most likely will be appealing this decision.'

Lynn from 1992 to 2004 served as the secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and was tasked with handling child sex abuse complaints. He was in June 2012 found guilty of felony child endangerment for covering up sex abuse claims brought against Catholic priests by reshuffling the accused to other parishes. first report the court's reversal. The AP reported his lawyers are trying to get Lynn released from prison as early as Thursday afternoon.

Lynn was at the time the first U.S. church official criminally convicted for charges stemming covering up sex abuse claims. The case was hailed as a landmark when it came to holding large institutions accountable for such oversight. Lynn is now 18 months into a 3 to 6 year prison sentence. The charges against Lynn stemmed from the case of former priest Edward Avery, who is serving a 2 1/2 to 5 year prison sentence for sexually assaulting an altar boy. Lynn admitted during his trial that he fielded a complaint in the 1990s that Avery had sexually abused an altar boy. Instead of removing Avery from ministry, Lynn recommended he be sent to a rehabilitation hospital. Lynn several years later reassigned Avery to work at a parish where he again sexually assaulted an altar boy. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina said during Lynn's sentencing last year that he used his role as a church official to shield 'monsters in garb.' 'You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong,' she said. But a three-judge Superior Court panel unanimously overturned Sarmina's decision, finding the state's child-endangerment law at the time of Lynn's conviction applied to parents and caregivers but did not extend to institutional supervisors.
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