Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog
In a 29-page, scorched-earth sentencing memo, prosecutors assail Monsignor William J. Lynn as a "cold," "craven" "yes man" who, in his position as secretary for clergy for the Philadelphia archdiocese, functioned as an "amoral" enabler of predator priests.
Although defense lawyers have tried to portray Lynn as a powerless, low-level functionary, the prosecutors in their sentencing memo brand the monsignor as a "central actor" in the archdiocese sex scandals while he served as Cardinal Bevilacqua's secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. In that job, prosecutors said, Lynn waged a 12-year campaign of "constant deceit," managing to keep both victims and parishioners in the dark, while displaying "a willingness to sacrifice anyone to please his superiors."
"Defendant's apparent lack of remorse for anyone but himself, his refusal to accept responsibility, and his failure to understand the criminality of his actions all demonstrate character in serious need of rehabilitation," prosecutors Mariana Sorensen and Patrick Blessington conclude. "A maximum sentence may be the only way to impress upon defendant that he committed a serious crime, that there are more important rules to follow that instructions from corrupt or misguided bishops, and that protection of children trumps the reputation of abusers and the institution that harbors them."
Lynn is scheduled to be sentenced at a 9 a.m. hearing Tuesday in front of Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who presided over the monsignor's ten-week trial After being convicted of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-degree felony, Lynn faces a jail sentence of between 3 1/2 and 7 years. If the prosecution's sentencing memo is any guide, Tuesday's hearing won't be a spectacle for the faint-hearted.
The prosecutors begin their narrative in September 1992 when a former altar boy at St. Philip Neri Church in East Greenville, Pa., then a medical student, told the monsignor about being repeatedly abused in the 1970s by Father Ronald V. Avery. When he was a young teenager, the victim said, he was one of many altar boys that Avery would take to his Jersey shore house, ply them with liquor, and then wrestle with him.
The victim told Lynn that Avery would "sometimes touch his genitals while they roughhoused." The victim also told Lynn that "Avery molested him in the priest's bed after [the victim] has assisted Avery" while he was working his part-time gig as a disc jockey. The priest subsequently took the victim on a ski trip to Vermont, where he molested him again in a motel bed.
Lynn "referred to himself as the cardinal's 'delgate' in matters having to do with sexual abuse," the prosecutors wrote. In 1994, Lynn included Father Avery on a list he drew up of "37 pedophiles and priests" accused of guilty of sexual abuse of minors. On the list, Lynn wrote that Avery was "guilty of sexual abuse of a minor."
Avery was shipped off to St. John Vianney, an archdiocese-owned facility, for nine months of psychiatric evaluation and treatment. The therapists recommended that Avery "not be assigned to a ministry involving adolescents or vulnerable minorities," the prosecutors wrote. At the time, Avery was also the legal guardian for six H-Mong children.