Deliberations In Priest-Abuse Case Could Begin Friday - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Deliberations In Priest-Abuse Case Could Begin Friday

Posted: Updated: June 1, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -

Deliberations could begin Friday for the jury in a landmark clergy sex abuse case involving two priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

After 10 weeks of emotional testimonies and lengthy documents, the defense and district attorneys presented their closing arguments to the jury.

"They want you to believe he didn't have the power," Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington charged at the jury. "How absurd is that? How offensive is that? How insulting is that?"

Blessington gave his closing arguments with a fervor, maintaining that Monsignor William Lynn kept guilty priests in ministry and the public in the dark.

"That's what you saw, our hero here, endangering out kids," Blessington barked while pointing the finger at Lynn.

Lynn is the highest ranking cleric to be charged with child endangerment and conspiracy. He stands on trial with Rev. James Brennan, a fellow Philadelphia priest who is accused of the attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Lynn's defense team argues that he documented and followed up with victims of abuse, sending his recommendations for problem priests up the chain of command. Lynn also upheld that he operated under the strict rules of the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, and that he did not have enough power to remove accused priests.

"He is being prosecuted for not doing something he couldn't do," defense attorney Thomas Bergstrom said of his client.

Over 60 witnesses testified throughout the trial, including Brennan's sole accuser whose claims fall within the statute of limitations. The alleged victim came forward in 2006, ten years after the incident took place.

Defense attorney William Brennan, no relation, reiterated the uncertainty that the sole victim's mother expressed during her testimony.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Brennan posed to the jury. "If his own mother has reasonable doubt, how can't you?"

The courtroom was at capacity today while others waited in line to get in. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was present in the courtroom during Blessington's closing arguments. Also in attendance was Barbara Blaine, president and founder of the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). She said the trial is an eye-opener for child sex abuse cases.

"It's overwhelming and heartbreaking that so many children had to experience such torture and horrors when it could have been stopped and should have been stopped," Blaine said. "Because of this case, I think children are safer in Philadelphia."

Both Lynn and Brennan have pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them.

The full list of charges is expected to be read on Friday.
 

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