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Deceased cardinal ordered memo on sex abuse shredded, defense lawyers claim in Philadelphia case

Catholic World News - February 24, 2012

Defense lawyers for a former Philadelphia archdiocesan officials contend that the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua ordered the shredding of a document that identified 35 priests who were suspected of sexual abuse.

Msgr. William Lynn prepared the memo in 1994, while serving as vicar for clergy in the archdiocese. But Cardinal Bevilacqua soon ordered the destruction of all copies, lawyers for Msgr. Lynn said.

Msgr Lynn faces charges to endangering children by concealing evidence of sexual abuse. The defense argued that the cardinal’s order to destroy the memo shows that Msgr. Lynn did not orchestrate a campaign to suppress evidence of sexual abuse by Philadelphia priests. The conspiracy to cover up evidence came from the top leadership of the archdiocese, they argue.

Before his death Cardinal Bevilacqua testified repeatedly that he was not involved in policy decisions regarding the handling of sex-abuse allegations. Defense lawyers say that the cardinal’s order to shred Msgr. Lynn’s memo casts that testimony into question.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: GymK - Feb. 26, 2012 10:51 PM ET USA

    Blame the dead guy! That's always a believable defense to use when you have nothing else to go on.

  • Posted by: jimpoc8837 - Feb. 25, 2012 9:25 AM ET USA

    From the headline: "Deceased Cardinal ordered ...." If he is deceased, how could he have ordered the shredding? I know, I know, he did it when he was alive.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Feb. 25, 2012 8:27 AM ET USA

    In the case of Cardinal Law, the prosecutors expressed that after reviewing extensively the evidence in the abuse cases and how they were handled they were thoroughly apalled and disgusted. Perhaps the allegations are not true in this particular case. But if this is not so, it demonstrates once again that it is hardly fair to level the accusation of "Catholic-phobe" against those pursuing justice against Church officials who failed to do what is so elementary to common decency. Say it ain't so.

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