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Accused priest was carrying out Philadelphia archdiocesan policy, lawyers argue

January 24, 2012

Lawyers representing a former official of the Philadelphia archdiocese have argued that prosecutors are attempting to blame their client for the failures of the entire archdiocese.

Msgr. William Lynn, who was once secretary for clergy, is facing trial on charges of endangering children by failing to pursue sex-abuse complaints. In a hearing on evidence that might be introduced at trial, lawyers for Msgr. William Lynn pointed out that the prosecution is proposing to introduce evidence involving sex-abuse cases that occurred before or after Msgr. Lynn’s tenure in the archdiocesan post.

The prosecution, which argues that the other cases show a pattern of improper conduct, has stated that the archdiocese is an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case. Msgr. Lynn’s lawyers reply that the prosecution is trying to make their client a scapegoat, rather than pursuing those truly responsible for a broad pattern of behavior. They say that Msgr. Lynn was merely carrying out the policies that were in place when he took his office, serving under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

The grand jury that indicted Msgr. Lynn reported that Cardinal Bevilacqua might also have faced criminal charges, but was spared because of his age and ill health.


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