In an historic conviction, William Lynn (image, left) has been found guilty in the Roman Catholic Church’s pedophile priests scandal for his responsibility in covering up child sex abuse cases. Lynn is the first American Roman Catholic church official to be charged for the handling of priest child sex abuse cases.
During the trial, secret and intentionally buried internal Catholic Church documents were read aloud in the Philadelphia courtroom that revealed memos in which Monsignor Lynn oversaw cases including one of a priest who joked about how hard it was for him to have sex with three boys in one week and discussed his rotation system for choosing which underaged boys would sleep with him.
A local Philadelphia NBC affiliate reported today that “Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty on one count of endangering the welfare of a child. He was also found not guilty on the second count of endangering the welfare of a child and not guilty of one count of conspiracy.”
Lynn was found not guilty on child endangerment and conspiracy charges.
The New York Times notes:The gag order was lifted and Lynn’s bail was revoked, according to NBC10′s Deanna Durante. He was taken into custody.Monsignor William Lynn was the first U.S. church official charged for allegedly helping an archdiocese cover up abuse claims.Lynn was on leave from the Philadelphia archdiocese, where he served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004.
Defense lawyers said Lynn alone tried to document abuse complaints, get priests into treatment and alert the cardinal to the growing crisis. Church documents show therapists had called one accused priest a ticking “time bomb” and “powder keg.”
Lynn testified that the cardinal was the ultimate authority on what happened to the priests.
Prosecutors argued that Lynn could have called police or quit the job if efforts to help victims were being stymied.
They said the evidence showed a pattern at the archdiocese of lying about why priests were removed, sending them to “company doctors” at church-run therapy centers and failing to warn new parishes where they were later transferred.
But the mixed verdict was widely seen as a victory for the district attorney’s office in Philadelphia, which has been investigating the archdiocese aggressively since 2002 and for victim advocates, who have argued for years that senior officials should be held accountable .
The trial has already sent a sobering message to church officials and others overseeing children around the country, a message punctuated by Monsignor Lynn’s conviction on a charge that could bring a prison term of three-and-a-half to seven years.
“I think that bishops and chancery officials understand that they will no longer get a pass on these types of crimes,” said Nicholas P. Cafardi, a professor of law at Duquesne University, a canon lawyer and frequent church adviser. “Priests who sexually abuse youngsters and the chancery officials who enabled it by allowing a known sexual abuser to remain in ministry can expect criminal prosecution.”