Judge Reverses Herself on Criminal Intent
By Ralph Cipriano
Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog
June 16, 2012
Judge M. Teresa Sarmina began the day by reversing herself.
On Thursday, the judge instructed the jury that Monsignor William J. Lynn did not have to act with criminal intent in order to be found guilty of conspiring to endanger the welfare of children.
On Friday, the judge said that Msgr. Lynn did have to act with criminal intent in order to be found guilty of conspiring to endanger the welfare of children.
Confused? Obviously, so are the jurors, who finished their ninth day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.
On Friday, the judge gave a complicated set of jury instructions that laid out the conditions for finding Msgr. Lynn guilty of conspiring to endanger the welfare of children.
In order to find Lynn guilty, according to the judge, the jury would have to:
-- Find that the monsignor intended to promote or facilitate the committing of the crime of endangering the welfare of children.
-- Find that "Lynn intended to act jointly" with other conspirators so that "a crime would be committed," namely endangering the welfare of children.
-- Find that Lynn and other conspirators had to know that their conduct would result in the danger of harm to children.
The judge read her instructions so fast that reporters and lawyers in the courtroom had trouble following along. Let's face it, this stuff is complicated, and what an already confused jury of lay people made of the judge's hasty words and complete reversal remains to be seen.
The jury returned to their deliberations. During the day, they asked for ten defense exhibits, including a floor plan of the tenth floor, where Lynn's office for the clergy was located on, as well as a letter Lynn sent to a sex abuse victim of Father Edward V. Avery.
The jury then asked for a read back of Lynn's cross-examination of May 29, when the monsignor was asked about the decision to give Father Avery a new assignment at St. Jerome's Church. It was in the sacristy of St. Jerome's where Avery subsequently abused a 10-year-old altar boy.
During the cross-examination, Lynn testified that it was Cardinal Bevilacqua's decision to place Avery at St. Jerome's, and also give him a residence in a rectory. On May 29, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington questioned Lynn about the wisdom of allowing Father Avery to hear confessions of school children after the priest had been accused in 1992 of repeatedly fondling the genitals of a 12-year-old boy back in the late 1970s.
Lynn testified that the confessions were en masse, with 600 to 700 kids "coming over at once." The confessions were done publicly, in an assembly line, Lynn told the prosecutor.
Jury deliberations are scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Monday.