The highest ranking cleric to be charged with child endangerment in the Philadelphia archdiocese clergy-abuse case continued his testimony on Thursday, admitting that some child sex abuse investigations "fell through the cracks."
Under intense cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, Monsignor William Lynn defended his response to child sex abuse complaints. As the former Secretary for Clergy, from 1992 to 2004, Lynn was responsible for investigating sex abuse claims.
Lynn testified that over his 12 year tenure, about 30 complaints of alleged predator priests were submitted. However Lynn admitted he never called the police in any of these cases.
According to Lynn, it was not the policy of the archdiocese to contact law enforcement when a victim complaint came in. Lynn stated this non-contact policy was established and maintained by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Lynn also testified that the archdiocese would not contact other victims, in fear of re-victimizing them.
"I did my best, and I did my best with the people who were injured by priests," Lynn said. "I'm not saying I was perfect."
On the witness stand, Lynn told the jury that after an abuse allegation would come in, he would immediately contact the accused priest. After meeting with the said priest, Lynn would recommend him to undergo a psychological evaluation at St. John Vianney Center, a treatment center for priests with health and behavioral issues.
Lynn said a priest could only be removed from ministry if he admitted to the allegations, or if he was diagnosed a pedophile or an ephebophile.
Blessington went through the file of accused priests and while some admitted to sexual misconduct, they still were not removed from ministry. Lynn said he only had the power to recommend removal to Bevilacqua.
Lynn is charged with endangering the welfare of children by moving suspecting priests to unwitting parishes where many of them had access to children. He stands on trial with Rev. James Brennan who is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Both Lynn and Brennan have pleaded not guilty to the allegations brought against them.
Lynn's cross-examination will continue Tuesday.