Priest guilty of hiding abuse
Jon Hurdle and Erik Eckholm
24th June 2012
Updated 25th June 2012
MONSIGNOR William Lynn, a former archbishop's aide, has been found guilty of endangering children, becoming the first senior official of the Catholic Church in the United States convicted of covering up sexual abuses by priests under his supervision.
The 12-member jury acquitted Lynn, of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, of conspiracy and a second count of endangerment after a trial that prosecutors and victims rights groups called a turning point in the abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church.
The single guilty verdict was widely seen as a victory for the district attorney's office, which has been investigating the archdiocese since 2002, and it was hailed by victim advocates who have argued for years senior church officials should be held accountable for concealing evidence and transferring predatory priests to unwary parishes.
Lynn, 61, sat impassively as the jury foreman announced the verdicts. Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of the Common Pleas Court revoked his bail, and the monsignor stood up, removed his clerical jacket and was led by sheriff's deputies to a holding cell area. His conviction, on the 13th day of deliberations, could result in a prison term of 3½ to seven years; sentencing is set for August 13.
The three-month trial cast a harsh light on the top leadership of the archdiocese, especially Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, whom Lynn advised. Bevilacqua and his aides, the prosecutors argued, sought to avoid scandal and lawsuits at almost any price.
Lynn served as secretary for clergy for the archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, recommending priest assignments and investigating abuse complaints. Prosecutors presented a flood of evidence that Lynn had not acted strongly to keep suspected molesters away from children, let alone to report them to law enforcement. Lynn's lawyers are expected to appeal.