SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

December 27, 2013

Pa. court reverses church official's conviction

PHILADELPHIA — A Roman Catholic church official who has been jailed for more than a year for his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints had his landmark conviction reversed and was ordered released yesterday.

A three-judge Superior Court panel unanimously rejected prosecution arguments that Monsignor William Lynn, the first U.S. church official ever charged or convicted for the handling of clergy-abuse complaints, was legally responsible for an abused boy’s welfare in the late 1990s.

“He’s been in prison 18 months for a crime he didn’t commit and couldn’t commit under the law,” said his attorney, Thomas Bergstrom. “It’s incredible what happened to this man.”

Lynn, 62, is serving a three- to six-year prison sentence after his child-endangerment conviction last year. His lawyers hoped for his immediate release yesterday from the state prison in Waymart, but the appeals court denied the request, instead sending the bail issue back to the trial court.

Prosecutors vowed to oppose bail and to challenge the 43-page opinion.

“Because we will be appealing, the conviction still stands for now, and the defendant cannot be lawfully released until the end of the process,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement.

His office contended at trial that Lynn reassigned known predators to new parishes in Philadelphia while he was the archdiocese’s secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. Lynn’s conviction stems from the case of one priest, Edward Avery, found to have abused a child in 1998 after such a transfer.

Victims’ groups blasted the reversal.

“We know thousands of betrayed Catholics and wounded victims will be disheartened by this news,” said David Cloches, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Lynn’s attorneys have long argued that the state’s child-endangerment law at the time applied only to parents and caregivers, not supervisors like Lynn. Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina had rejected their argument and sent the case to trial.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Ipswich selectmen act to stop clam raiders IPSWICH -- The Southwest is not the only border under siege. Ipswich is taking emergency action to deal with clammers coming across the Essex and Gloucester border on Sundays to harvest on the richest clamming beach in Ipswich. It's not as serious, o

    July 22, 2014

  • Police Swampscott Monday Haridon Duvli, 27, of 11 Fiske Ave., Lynn; Nicolette Senibaldi, 23, of 136 Western Ave., Lynn; and Courtney Avery, 21, of 192 W. Main St., Georgetown, were arrested on charges of shoplifting at Marshall's on Paradise Road, as logged

    July 23, 2014

  • New Brimbal Avenue design to be presented Thursday

    BEVERLY -- Residents will get their first chance to weigh in on the new design proposal for the Brimbal Avenue/Route 128 interchange on Thursday. City and state officials, along with designer Jacobs Engineering, will host a community meeting Thursday

    July 22, 2014 6 Stories

  • North Shore Community Calendar Wednesday, July 23 Salem: North Shore Elder Services, 10 a.m., Explorers Lifelong Learning Institute Center, 10 Federal St. Lecture features Paul Lanzikos, executive director of North Shore Elder Services and former Massachusetts secretary of elder a

    July 23, 2014

  • Marblehead diver rescue 2 Body of diver recovered off Marblehead

    State Police divers found the body of a 59-year-old man in the waters off Marblehead at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story