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Msgr. Lynn given 3-6 year prison term in Philadelphia abuse case

July 24, 2012

Msgr. William Lynn, who was convicted in June on child-endangerment charges, has been sentenced to serve 3 to 6 years in prison.

A former vicar for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese, Msgr. Lynn is the first official of an American diocese to be convicted for failure to address sex-abuse charges. His lawyers, who argued that he was powerless to change policies approved by his superiors, have indicated that they will appeal the conviction.

Lawyers for Msgr. Lynn had asked the Pennsylvania court to give him a lighter sentence, perhaps involving parole or house arrest. They argued that he is not a threat to the community, and most first-time offenders convicted on similar charges do not serve significant prison terms. The prosecution countered with a plea for the maximum sentence of 7 years, pointing to the priest's "active, even eager execution of archdiocesan policies, carried out in the face of victims' vivid suffering."


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  • Posted by: - Jul. 25, 2012 3:17 PM ET USA

    You seem to be missing the point, Thomas429, which is that Msgr. Lynn failed seriously in his obligation as a Christian and as a citizen. He was part of the cover-up. He did not speak up or call the police. To say that "you don't say no to a Cardinal," in the face of horrible crimes, demonstrates moral inertness or blind obedience or concern for career that leads some non-Catholics to reasonably conclude that Catholics and some of their ecclesial leadership are unthinking robots.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jul. 24, 2012 9:08 PM ET USA

    The bishops mantra must be "call the police",simple to remember.

  • Posted by: Thomas429 - Jul. 24, 2012 9:03 PM ET USA

    So much for "Christian Charity" amongst the commentators on this article. I know that a very small number of priests did questionable things with the young men in their care. I also know that the number of accusations exceeds the number of actual transgressions. To make an such an example of someone with a very minor role in the actions taken at the time is beyond the pale.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 24, 2012 6:12 PM ET USA

    Msgr.has been made a scapegoat. Most people tend to forget that the the victims who came forward did so after going to the police and were told that the statue of limitations had passed. Msgr. Lynn worked within a system which we now know was dysfunctional. However, he did the best he could given the limits of his authority. The vindictiveness of the Phila. judicial system was aptly demonstrated by a sentence no one else would have received if similar charges had been brought against them.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 24, 2012 5:53 PM ET USA

    Good comment. If we cannot have better qualified "mitred heads" (until the bishop selection process is improved), well, we'll have to settle for mitred heads that "lie uneasy." The use of the immoral Nuremberg defense by this Msgr. was absolutely disgraceful.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jul. 24, 2012 3:12 PM ET USA

    "I was only following orders" didn't work any better in Philadelphia than it did in Nuremberg. This whole case must, however, make a lot of mitred heads lie uneasy. And, if one may opine, properly so.