Monsignor Convicted of Child Endangerment in Priest Abuse Coverup

Press TV
June 22, 2012

Monsignor William J. Lynn

Msgr. William J. Lynn was found guilty Friday of one count of endangering children, becoming the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to be convicted for covering up child sexual abuses by priests under his supervision.

The 12-member jury acquitted him on a conspiracy charge and a second count of endangerment after a three-month trial that prosecutors and victims rights groups considered a milestone in the sexual abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church.

But the mixed verdict was widely seen as a victory for the district attorney's office in Philadelphia, which has been investigating the archdiocese aggressively since 2002 and for victim advocates, who have argued for years that senior officials should be held accountable.

The trial has already sent a sobering message to church officials and others overseeing children around the country, a message punctuated by Monsignor Lynn's conviction on a charge that could bring a prison term of three-and-a-half to seven years.

"I think that bishops and chancery officials understand that they will no longer get a pass on these types of crimes," said Nicholas P. Cafardi, a professor of law at Duquesne University, a canon lawyer and frequent church adviser. "Priests who sexually abuse youngsters and the chancery officials who enabled it by allowing a known sexual abuser to remain in ministry can expect criminal prosecution."

Despite the mixed verdict, victim advocates were elated.

"The guilty verdict sends a strong and clear message that shielding and enabling predator priests is a heinous crime that threatens families, communities and children, and must be punished as such," said Barbara Dorris of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Monsignor Lynn's own lawyer told the jury that "in this trial, you have seen the dark side of the church." NY Times


In the archdiocese's new financial report issued this month, it was disclosed that the church has spent $11.6 million in response to the 2011 grand jury investigation of the archdiocese.

Monsignor Lynn, 61, served as secretary for clergy for the 1.5 million-member Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, in charge of recommending priest assignments and investigating abuse complaints. Prosecutors said he played down credible accusations and reassigned known predators to unwary parishes.

The trial was noteworthy because Lynn was not accused of sexual misconduct, but of covering it up. More than a dozen witnesses testified that they were sexually abused by priests who had been allowed to serve in their parishes even after being suspected or accused of abuse. LA Times

The prosecutors presented a flood of evidence, legal experts said, that the archdiocese had concealed abuse accusations and that Monsignor Lynn had not acted strongly to keep suspected molesters away from children, let alone to report them to law enforcement.








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