A jury found Msgr. William J. Lynn, of Philadelphia, guilty on one charge of endangerment stemming from allegations that he helped coverup the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. Lynn was acquitted of conspiracy, the AP reports.
Lynn was the first Roman Catholic official to be tried in the United States in the aftermath of the priest abuse scandal. The jury returned its verdict on its 13th day of deliberations and two days after the judge sent them back to deliberate further after they said they were deadlocked on all but one charge.
As The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Lynn was never accused of touching a child, instead he was accused of encouraging the reassignment of priests despite the fact that there was evidence they had sexually abused children.
The Inquirer provides this background:
“Prosecutors asserted that as clergy secretary he failed to take adequate steps to remove pedophile priests and that his conduct showed he cared more about protecting the church than children.
“Lynn, they said, lied to some victims, never sought out others, and, in a few cases, suggested to admitted sex abusers that they may have been seduced by their young accusers. …
“Both prosecutors and defense attorneys seized on what they called “a smoking gun” in the case: a list Lynn compiled in 1994 naming 37 archdiocesan priests, including some still working in parishes, who had been diagnosed as pedophiles, had admitted or were suspected of abusing children or teens. Some remained in active ministry for years after the list was drawn up.”
As MSBC reports, Lynn argued on the stand that he did what “he could to stop molestation by clergy but that he was only doing his job when he reassigned suspected clergy.”
WHYY’s News Works has a timeline of the case.