The archdiocese of Philadelphia has offered a “heartfelt apology” to abuse victims and expressed a commitment to child safety and “reform and renewal” after one of its senior clergy was found guilty of failing to protect children from an abusive priest.
A jury found Monsignor William J. Lynn, the former archdiocesan secretary for clergy under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, guilty on a charge of child endangerment.
He was acquitted on two other charges, including one of conspiracy. Another conspiracy charge was dropped during the trial.
Monsignor Lynn is the highest-ranking United States Church official to be charged with crimes relating to clergy sexual abuse.
The 61-year-old priest, who was not accused of abuse himself, faces up to seven years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 13.
The jury found that, as the archdiocese’s chief investigator of clergy misconduct, Monsignor Lynn ignored credible warning signs about a priest who later sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy.
The prosecution argued that his response to claims of abuse against over 20 priests showed he focused on protecting the Church instead of children. They said he lied to some victims and did not seek out others.
The prosecutors also said he suggested to some sexually abusive priests that they may have been seduced by their accusers.
Monsignor Lynn said that prosecutors misconstrued his words and memos. He said medical experts had advised him not to seek out other possible victims because the victims might not want to discuss the abuse.
The verdict in the Philadelphia abuse case followed years of investigation and a trial that put a spotlight on thousands of confidential Church records and decades of complaints of child-sex abuse by priests in the region.
Many files were locked away in the archdiocese’s secret archives, cataloguing decades of misconduct allegations against priests.
News category: World.