20-Year Church Abuse Investigation Ends With Monsignor William Lynn’s Silent Plea

(AP) – Twenty years after city prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate complaints of priest abuse within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a tortuous lawsuit has brought the clergy to justice. It ended with a misdemeanor appeal. city ​​hall court.

Monsignor William Lynn, 71, spent nearly three years in state prison as an appeals court reviewed a grueling three-month trial that led to his conviction of endangering a child for a felony in 2012. I was serving. One victim with questionable court appearances.

Ultimately, they said, Lynn could end her 20-year ordeal without challenging charges of failing to turn over records to a 2002 grand jury. The petition was taken during a short break in the civil case and no further punishment was imposed.

“He’s lost ten years of his life, ten years of his priesthood,” said defense attorney Thomas Bergstrom of the decade since Lynn’s conviction. “It’s a farce. It’s an absolute farce.”

“You’re fighting an uphill battle because the public misunderstands that he was convicted. They thought he was an abuser,” Bergstrom said.

Lynn was the first US church official to be indicted, convicted, or imprisoned for handling a priest abuse complaint.

His trial attracted the press, victims of clerical abuse, and a packed courtroom full of outraged Catholics, along with several church supporters. Lynn, a long-time clergy secretary, is accused of sending known marauders to the accuser’s northeast Philadelphia diocese, whose names appear on a list of problem priests prepared for Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. rice field.

The trial judge has allowed nearly 20 other victims of clerical abuse to testify about the abuse they have endured in the archdiocese for more than half a century. An appeals court later said their weeks of testimony for unindicted conduct was unfair to Lynn.

“This is one defendant and one count of jeopardizing the welfare of one group of children,” Justice Gwendolyn Bright said before the retrial began in March 2020. said. “Sins of the Catholic Church”

The pandemic has closed courts and the lawsuit against Lynn has again stalled until a recent petition.

A spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner, who took over the case from his predecessor, called Lynn’s unpublished petition of Nov. 2 “a victim who has endured retraumatization through the legal process over the years. “We didn’t want to face another test,” they said.

The archdiocese did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

Rin, who remains a priest, conducts masses for retired nuns and hopes to take on more duties.

At his trial, Lin said that Bevilaqua created a list of 35 suspected predator priests to address the issue, but only destroyed the list.

“I had no intention of causing harm (to the victim). In fact, my vest wasn’t enough to stop the harm,” Lynn testified.

In recent years, prosecutors have complicated their trial strategies, unsure whether the trial accuser — the son of a police officer who testified to a long battle with addiction — can be returned to court for a retrial. Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, the lead trial prosecutor in 2012, had said that by claiming Lynn planted a “bomb” in the parish, the case could be tried without casualties.

Blessington is now retired. And finally, District Attorney Krasner decided not to try that strategy.

“Victims in this matter have expressed to the federal government that further proceedings[in another trial]will … cause irreparable harm and cost them even more,” his office said in a statement. rice field.

A whistleblower at the trial said he was abused by two priests and his Catholic school teacher. One of them, the defamed priest Edward Avery, filed a petition days before the trial. Rev. Charles Engelhardt, who said he never met the accuser, was found guilty in a 2013 trial and died in prison. and, like Lynn, did not challenge the lesser charges.

The priest abuse scandal cost the Roman Catholic Church an estimated $3 billion or more and bankrupted parishes around the world. 20-Year Church Abuse Investigation Ends With Monsignor William Lynn’s Silent Plea

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