By Ralph Cipriano
It’s one of the enduring mysteries of the current district attorney’s self-described “historic” prosecution of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
How could one former district attorney, Lynne Abraham, and one grand jury look at the state law for endangering the welfare of a child [EWOC], in 2005 and decide that the law didn’t apply to Msgr. William J. Lynn, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, or any other high-ranking official at the archdiocese?
And how could the current district attorney, Seth Williams, and another grand jury look at that same exact EWOC law in 2011 and decide that the law did apply, not only to Msgr. Lynn, but also to Father James J. Brennan, Father Edward V. Avery, Father Charles Engelhardt, and Bernard Shero?
In the appeals battle over the conviction of Msgr. Lynn, District Attorney Seth Williams finally had to answer the question that he had previously been stonewalling on. The D.A.’s official explanation for the legal flip-flop was contained in a 63-page brief filed June 25th in Superior Court.
In the brief, written by Hugh L. Burns, chief of the D.A.’s Appeals Unit, the author conceded that one Philadelphia district attorney got it right and one Philadelphia district attorney got it wrong, but that it would be up to the Superior Court to make the final call.
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