Philadelphia priest gets bail after abuse cover-up conviction reversed

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 30, 2013 1:59 PM
Philadelphia priest gets bail after abuse cover-up conviction reversed

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Philadelphia judge on Monday set bail at $250,000 for a senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official whose conviction in a high-profile child sex abuse case was overturned last week.

Monsignor William Lynn, 62, was convicted in June 2012 of endangering the welfare of a child for reassigning a priest with a history of sex abuse to a Philadelphia parish that was unaware of his past.

That priest, Edward Avery, later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in the Philadelphia parish.

Lynn, who was not accused of molesting children himself, was the first high-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be found guilty of covering up allegations of molestation by a priest. Lynn was secretary of clergy for the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1994 to 2004,

Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina ordered Lynn to surrender his passport, wear an ankle-monitoring bracelet and check in weekly with authorities as part of the conditions of his release from state prison. He is expected to be released from prison later this week, attorneys in the case said.

An appeals court overturned Lynn's conviction on December 26, saying there had not been enough evidence to convict him. The appeals panel also rejected arguments that Lynn had been legally responsible for the welfare of the abused boy in the late 1990s.

Lynn's attorneys had argued on appeal that the law he was prosecuted under was not in place at the time of the crimes.

"Let's be clear, William Lynn is no patsy, he is no fall guy," District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement, indicating his office would appeal the reversal of Lynn's conviction.

"He is a cold, calculating man who endangered the welfare of countless children for decades by moving known predators throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," Williams said.

Lynn's attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, said Monday that it would likely take until Thursday before arrangements for payment of the bail and monitoring are made. He said he does not know where Lynn will live when he is released from prison.

"The single charge that he was convicted of has now been reversed," Bergstrom said outside the courtroom. "He's probably going to have to spend much of his time in the Philadelphia area, which is fine."

Lynn was not in the courtroom Monday.

A victim's support group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said they were disappointed Lynn was granted bail.

"Msgr. Lynn's callousness, recklessness and deceit caused kids to be hurt and predators to walk free. We hope that Pennsylvania's highest court will re-instate his conviction," the group said in a statement.

(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Leslie Adler)