A Roman Catholic official was found guilty of child endangerment in a landmark case involving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Monsignor William Lynn is the highest ranking cleric to be prosecuted for an elaborate cover-up of child abuse claims against priests.
He was acquitted on a second count of endangerment and a conspiracy charge to protect a priest accused of molesting children.
Lynn served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, primarily under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. According to prosecutors, it was during his tenure that he helped the archdiocese keep predator priests in ministry and move them to unwitting parishes.
"What happened here was unspeakable," said Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams. "People knew that these were predators -- who were much more concerned with the institution than the victims of sexual assault."
Lynn's bail was revoked by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. He remained stoic, however turned bright red as Sarmina announced her decision. Some in his family, whom many of them have accompanied Lynn throughout the trial, began to weep as Lynn was taken away.
Lynn's attorneys said they would appeal the decision. His sentencing is scheduled for August 13, however there will be a motion to put Lynn on house arrest on Monday.
"He's upset. He's crushed. He's in custody and he was the administrator who didn't touch a child and had only limited authority,'' defense lawyer Jeffrey Lindy said.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict to Lynn's co-defendant, Rev. James Brennan. Brennan was charged with the attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy in 1996 and child endangerment.
Juror Taleah Grimmage said they did not believe the testimony of Brennan's sole accuser. remarked that it seemed like he was making up testimony while he was on the stand.
The jury reached their partial verdict after 37 days of testimony and 13 days of deliberations. The trial began on March 26 and concluded May 31, with deliberations following the next day.
After the verdict was read on both defendants, Brennan said, "I'm very tired, I'm very grateful, I'm very blessed."
Brennan could face a retrial from the District Attorney's office. Williams also made the statement that they may go after other accused priests as well.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia released a statement in reaction to Lynn's guilty verdict.
"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia offers a heartfelt apology to all victims of clergy sexual abuse. Now and in the future, the Church will continue to take vigorous steps to ensure safe church environments for all the faithful in Philadelphia," the statement said.
More than 60 witnesses testified and nearly 2,000 documents were read throughout Lynn and Brennan's criminal trial.
Lynn's defense argued their client passed victim complaints up the chain of command, and was under strict rules by Bevilacqua concerning priest removal.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington continuously described Lynn as a "liar." Even after the verdict was delivered, Blessington said Lynn was "pompous," "condescending" and "deplorable."
"Treat him like the criminal he is," Blessington said when arguing to revoke Lynn's bail.
Lynn's conspiracy count related to an allegation that he tried to protect now-defrocked priest Edward Avery and did so with Avery's and the archdiocese's knowledge.
Avery was set to appear in court with Lynn and Brennan, but pleaded guilty before the trial began in March. He was sentenced to 2½ to 5 years in prison. The jury was not informed of Avery's guilty plea.
The jury foreman, Isa Logan, read the partial verdict aloud to the courtroom. He is scheduled to appear on FOX 29's Good Day this Monday to give further insight on the jury's decision.