SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

December 27, 2013

Pa. court reverses church official's conviction

(Continued)

Sarmina concluded that Lynn perhaps drafted a 1994 list of accused priests to try to address the clergy abuse problem. But when Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua had the list destroyed, Lynn chose to stick around — and keep quiet, she said. A copy of the list was found years later in a safe and was repeatedly shown at trial.

Sarmina, in sentencing Lynn in July 2012, had said the church administrator had “enabled monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children,” rather than stand up to his bishop.

Lynn told the judge: “I did not intend any harm to come to (the boy). The fact is, my best was not good enough to stop that harm.”

Lynn’s supporters believe he was made a scapegoat for the church’s sins. Nonetheless, Bergstrom said his client hopes to return to ministry, and he has enjoyed support of the current Philadelphia archbishop, Charles J. Chaput, who twice visited him in prison.

Lynn had left the archdiocesan hierarchy for parish work after he featured prominently in a damning 2005 grand jury report into the priest-abuse scandal. Then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham concluded that too much time had passed to charge anyone criminally, despite decades of abuse complaints against dozens of priests.

Williams, her successor, revisited the issue when new accusers came forward under new laws that extended the time limits and added church or school supervisors to the list of people who could be charged. Williams filed the novel child-endangerment case against Lynn, while charging three other priests and a teacher of sexually abusing children.

Three of them have been convicted, while the jury deadlocked in the fourth case.

Lynn’s trial lasted several months, although a majority of the testimony involved victim testimony from earlier, uncharged priest-abuse cases, much of it graphic. Sarmina allowed the jury to hear that evidence to let prosecutors show the pattern of behavior by Lynn and other church officials.

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