Philadelphia Priest Trial Refocuses Abuse Scandal
Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in Philadelphia in the first case in which an official of a Roman Catholic archdiocese has been accused of protecting abusive priests by moving them from parish to parish.
Monsignor William Lynn has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child. Lynn served as the vicar of clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, a position in which he was responsible for investigating reports that priests had sexually abused children.
A grand jury alleged that he knowingly allowed priests accused of abuse to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children, according to the district attorney’s office. Lynn “acted as if his job was to protect the abuser, never the abused,” a January 2011 grand jury report concluded.
But Lynn’s lawyers argue that the monsignor had informed his superiors — including Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in January — that priests in the archdiocese were assaulting children.
The Lynn case has had reverberations across the country, including the October 2011 arrest of Bishop Robert W. Finn in Kansas City, Missouri, on charges that he failed to report suspected child abuse by a priest. Finn pleaded not guilty.