With release from prison likely Tuesday, will Monsignor Lynn face retrial?


PhillyVoice Contributor

At a bail hearing set for Tuesday morning, Msgr. William J. Lynn is expected to walk out of court as a free man.

The next move in the legal odyssey will be up to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

Four years ago, it was Williams who successfully oversaw the prosecution of Lynn. The monsignor, who served as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, was convicted by a jury in 2012 on one count of endangering the welfare of a child. The trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, subsequently sentenced Lynn to three to six years in prison.

The act of child endangerment involved the transfer of the Rev. Edward V. Avery, a priest with a prior accusation of sex abuse, to a new parish, without any notice to parishioners. Avery subsequently pleaded guilty to deviate sexual intercourse with a former 10-year-old altar boy dubbed “Billy Doe.”

It was a “historic” prosecution, the district attorney proclaimed. Lynn became the first Catholic administrator in the country to be sent to jail in the church’s ongoing sex abuse scandal, not for touching anybody, but for failing to adequately supervise an abusive priest.

But last December, the state Superior Court overturned Lynn’s conviction, and ordered a new trial on the grounds that the trial judge had let in too much prejudicial evidence against the church. Williams appealed to the state Supreme Court. Last week, the state’s highest court denied the district attorney’s petition, clearing the way for Lynn’s freedom.

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