Prosecutors Reveal Monsignor Lynn's History of Handling Child Sex Assault Reports
January 26, 2012
The Philadelphia Daily News reported today on developments in the upcoming trial of Monsignor William Lynn. Lynn, the secretary for clergy under cardinal Belivacqua, is charged with endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy for his role in transferring known sex offending clerics into unsuspecting parishes.
Philadelphia prosecutors appeared before Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina and attempted to persuade her to allow into evidence earlier reports of child sex crimes against dozens of priests from the archdiocese. Prosecutors believe that these reports of childhood sexual assault, made during Lynn's tenure as secretary of clergy, clearly demonstrate a pattern of behavior by Monsignor Lynn.
Lynn, as secretary of the clergy in the archdiocese of Philadelphia, was responsible for investigating reports of clergy sexual assault. He is the highest ranking Catholic cleric in the United States to face trial for his role in knowingly providing priest predators with continued access to children. He is being tried with Fr. James Brennan who is reported to have raped a 14 year old altar boy, Fr. Charles Engelhardt, and former priest Edward Avery. Engelhardt and Avery are each charged with raping a 10 year old boy.
The Chief of Special Investigations, Patrick Blessington, summed up the behavior of the archdiocese as follows:
"Time and time again, they lie to victims because they are not concerned about the victims; they are just concerned about the almighty dollar and mother church".
As evidence of Lynn's disturbing pattern of behavior prosecutors provided Judge Sarmina with the following examples:
Monsignor Lynn received a report that Fr. Thomas Shea had admitted to sexually assaulting two boys. Lynn, when reflecting on Shea's admission, wrote that "It is possible Shea was seduced into it".
Lynn also received a report concerning Fr. Joseph Gausch. Gausch had reportedly masturbated a 12 year old boy on numerous occasions. Lynn asked the victim if it was possible that Gausch's actions (masturbating him) had been misinterpreted. It is hard to imagine what Gausch could have been doing to the boy that would be confused with the act of masturbation.
The case of Fr. Michael Murtha was also presented to the court. Murtha was discovered with a collection of child pornography and a sexual "fantasy letter" that he had written to a 7th grade boy from his parish. The letter had not been delivered to the child but when Lynn heard of the discovery he was upset that Fr. Murtha's privacy rights had been violated. The parents were never notified that a priest had written down sexual fantasies about their child and that their child could be in danger.
Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti described the priest predators that Lynn enabled as live bombs that were left in a room before being defused. Cipolletti remarked "You're still on the hook" if the bomb later explodes.
Cipolletti, when referring to the case of Fr. Avery who is charged with raping a ten year old boy, stated "the archdiocese is supplying him with an endless supply of victims".
Judge Sarmina asked for clarification, inquiring as to whether prosecutors consider the archdiocese of Philadelphia an "unindicted co-conspirator".
Cipolletti responded "Certainly, it's not like there aren't other people (in the archdiocese) involved. There absolutely are".
Fr. Avery, in addition to being charged with raping a ten year old boy, is reported to have provided boys with alcohol and then offering to "sober them up" by rubbing ice on their genitals.
The trial of Monsignor Lynn and his fellow co-defendants is expected to take place in March.
Update: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that prosecutors submitted to the court today further evidence of the archdiocese of Philadelphia's long standing practice of protecting child predators. Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen presented a letter written in 1968 by Fr. John Mulholland in which he describes a sadomasochistic camping trip with children. Mulholland wrote the letters to a young man whose mother turned them over to church officials. The letters describe a "two week torture treatment" designed to turn a boy into "the perfect slave" featuring, according to the assistant DA, "a naked 15 year old boy being strung up and flogged in the woods by his brothers". The archdiocese learned about the content of Mulholland's letters in 1968 and allowed him to work and minister in parishes until 2002.