Bail Set For Philadelphia Archdiocese Official After Reversal Of His Conviction For Endangering Children

Posted On Monday, December 30, 2013
By: Christopher A. Iacono

A Common Pleas Court Judge set bail for Monsignor William Lynn four days after the Superior Court ruled he was wrongfully convicted of endangering children.  Monsignor William Lynn is the first Catholic official ever prosecuted over his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints. He has served 18 months of the 3- to 6-year sentence handed down by a judge who said he helped predators remain in ministry, endangering new victims.

The Superior Court reversed the conviction last Thursday, ruling that the state’s child-endangerment law did not apply in the late 1990s to church supervisors like Lynn. The Superior Court said the case never should have been filed.

His lawyers had filed a bail petition seeking immediate action “in light of the unequivocal language of the Superior Court opinion, as well as the amount of time Msgr. Lynn has already served.” Prosecutors vowed a fight to restore Lynn’s conviction, and opposed bail.

The three month trial last year revealed that Lynn documented hundreds of abuse complaints filed against dozens of priests at the archdiocese from the late 1950s through his 1992-2004 tenure, then locked the files in a secret archives room. The accused priests were often transferred to new parishes without warning, although Lynn said he often tried to get them and their victims help.

Prosecutors tracked down many of the victims from the secret files. The trial judge allowed 20 of them to testify about their childhood encounters with priests, even though the crimes were too old to prosecute. They described countless rapes, sadist religious rituals and failed attempts to get help from other adults.  The Superior Court did not rule on whether that graphic testimony was appropriate at Lynn’s trial.

The defense has long argued that Lynn was charged retroactively under a 2007 law that broadened the scope of the child-endangerment law to include those who supervise predators. The trial judge, though, had rejected the argument. The Superior Court found her ruling “fundamentally flawed.”

The trial judge also ruled that Lynn must surrender his passport and be subject to electronic monitoring and weekly reporting while on bail.  He must post $25,000.00 to be released.