Catholic World News

Philadelphia: former archdiocesan official found guilty of endangering children

June 22, 2012

A Philadelphia jury has found Msgr. William Lynn guilty of endangering children.

Msgr. Lynn, who served as secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese for 12 years, becomes the first Church official convicted for failure to take action on reports of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Defense lawyers had attempted to persuade the jury that Msgr. Lynn was following archdiocesan policies set down by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, and could not have changed those policies. After a contentious trial, an appeal of his felony conviction seems likely.

After 13 days of deliberation, following a 10-week trial, the jury found the former archdiocesan official guilty on one count of child endangerment. He was found not guilty on two other counts, including a count of conspiracy. The jury could not reach an agreement on charges against a co-defendant, Father James Brennan, who was charged with attempted rape and child endangerment.

While the hung jury could result in a new trial for Father Brennan, Msgr. Lynn now faces a prison term of up to 7 years. Judge Teresa Sarmina, prompted by the prosecution, revoked the priest’s bail and ordered him taken into custody, pending a sentence hearing in August.


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  • Posted by: normnuke - Jun. 23, 2012 4:50 PM ET USA

    'Msgr. Lynn now faces a prison term of up to 7 years.' Gone are the days when a comfy sojourne at St. Luke's would smoothe things. We are into the era of onus-shifting. And they don't work either.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jun. 23, 2012 2:36 PM ET USA

    In a sad twist of ironic fate, Sandusky's verdict last evening might just have spared the Church in Philadelphia and elsewhere an even more intense sentence in the arena of public sentiment. Paterno's end must rival the worst of any Greek or Shakespearean tragedy. Do those prelates who protected pedophiles deserve better? It's a tough sell to American parents.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jun. 23, 2012 4:39 AM ET USA

    Continue to pray for all the victims of abuse for their healing - and for Msgr Lynn that he will lovingly use the remainder of his time on earth doing God's will.

  • Posted by: unum - Jun. 22, 2012 10:35 PM ET USA

    A sorry spectacle of men who deluded themselves into thinking that they were "protecting the Church" when everything that Christ taught demanded that they protect the children. While this trial is not pretty, it is necessary. The Church must clear the air in Philly so that healing can begin under the new leadership in the Diocese.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jun. 22, 2012 9:38 PM ET USA

    Sad and bad at the same time for the Church. Terrible for all parties. It did not require sanctity or heroism to prevent this nonsensical disaster. Just common decency.

  • Posted by: demark8616 - Jun. 22, 2012 9:13 PM ET USA

    The striking difference between these guilty clerics and those serving under the Nazi regime is... 1) They are not conscripted soldiers in a war situation. 2) They will not be killed or punished (or their families)if they refuse to follow orders or do their duty. What pressing excuse do these priests have? - Obedience? To what and whom? Surely they should obey the laws of God, who the purport to work for?

  • Posted by: demark8616 - Jun. 22, 2012 9:00 PM ET USA

    "Msgr. Lynn's attorney... told jurors in his closing argument "This man, who never touched a child but yet who documented the evil other men did, [prosecutors] want you to convict him for their sins," he said." Silence is consent, at least from what I is an indictment on the Church that secular courts take grave 'sins' of omission & commission more seriously than they do. Also something so Nazi about this excuse - they also 'followed orders' and did their 'duty'.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jun. 22, 2012 5:43 PM ET USA

    This will probably not be the last criminal conviction. The bishops should have handled it properly to begin with, and this is the predictable result. Msgr Lynn should thank God that He did not see fit to judge this situation Himself. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God."