Pa. priest released from prison after appeal - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Pa. priest released from prison after appeal

Posted: Updated:
A judge has set bail on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, at $250,000 for Lynn, a Roman Catholic priest whose conviction in the clergy sex abuse scandal was overturned by a Pennsylvania appeals court.  (Alex Brandon, AP) A judge has set bail on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, at $250,000 for Lynn, a Roman Catholic priest whose conviction in the clergy sex abuse scandal was overturned by a Pennsylvania appeals court. (Alex Brandon, AP)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Roman Catholic church official who won an appeal of his landmark conviction in the priest-abuse scandal left state prison on Thursday after 18 months behind bars.

Monsignor William Lynn left the prison in Waymart in northeastern Pennsylvania, prison spokeswoman Terri Fazio said, and was being taking by the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office to a city jail, where he would be fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

After that, he'll be released, probably to the custody of a family member, one of his lawyers said.

The attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, declined to say where in Philadelphia his client will live while prosecutors appeal the Superior Court ruling.

Lynn, 62, was the first U.S. church official ever charged for hiding complaints that priests were molesting children. He was the point person for those complaints in Philadelphia from 1992-2004.

Prosecutors charged him with felony child endangerment. But the appeals court said the law that existed at the time didn't cover people who don't directly supervise children.

Lynn's lawyers, including Jeffrey Lindy and Alan Tauber, had made that argument even before his 2011 indictment, but Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina sent the case to trial.

The Philadelphia archdiocese has been in the crosshairs of city prosecutors since 2002, when the priest-abuse scandal broke in Boston. Lynn, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and other church officials - accompanied by lawyers - were grilled for days by an earlier grand jury that issued a damning report in 2005 but concluded that no charges could be filed.

Prosecutors tried again under District Attorney Seth Williams, who charged three priests with new sexual assault allegations in 2011 and Lynn with protecting the accused predators by hiding complaints in secret files. Bevilacqua, by then frail and elderly, was a potential witness in Lynn's case but died before trial. By that time, his mild-mannered successor, Cardinal Anthony Rigali, had been replaced in Philadelphia by dynamic Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Chaput has twice visited Lynn in prison and has said that no one person should become the scapegoat for the abuse crisis. Bergstrom, his attorney, said Lynn has become just that.

"There's clearly some reason to believe that that's what happened here," Bergstrom said.

Lynn, at his July 2012 sentencing, told Sarmina he tried his best to address the festering sex-abuse problem. He also voiced regret over his climb up the archdiocesan hierarchy.

"I am a parish priest. I should have stayed (one)," Lynn said.

Sarmina acknowledged that Lynn sometimes sent accused priests for therapy, but she said he ultimately protected the church's reputation over the souls of children. She sentenced him to three-to-six years in prison.

Lynn's conviction stems from the transfer of accused priest Edward Avery to a new parish, where he was later accused of raping a former altar boy in the church sacristy. Avery pleaded guilty and is serving 2 1/2- to five years in prison, although he denied the assault when called to testify at Lynn's trial.

Lynn remains a priest in good standing with the church, and could return to ministry. He last served as pastor of St. Joseph's in Downingtown, an affluent suburban parish whose members supported Lynn at his trial.

A spokesman for the archdiocese did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • CDC director raises Ebola alarm

    CDC director raises Ebola alarm

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-09-02 13:53:11 GMT
    (CNN) -- The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is much worse than official figures show, and other countries are unintentionally making it harder to control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden told CNN on Tuesday.More >>
    (CNN) -- The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is much worse than official figures show, and other countries are unintentionally making it harder to control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden told CNN on Tuesday.More >>
  • Tropical Blog 9/2

    T.S. Dolly Moving Across The Gulf Of Mexico

    T.S. Dolly Moving Across The Gulf Of Mexico

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:52 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:52:04 GMT
    Tuesday, September 210:45amThere is One Tropical Cyclone in the Atlantic Basin.Dolly (Tropical Storm)The Center of Dolly located 85 miles ESE of LA Pesca, Mexico and is centered at 23.4N 96.5W with Maximum sustained winds of 50mph and a Minimum Central Pressure of 1005mb (29.68"). This system is moving WNW (300) at 16mph.Watches/Warnings:There are no current watches or warnings in the United States, associated with this system.There is a Tropical Storm Warning in effect for the coastline fro...More >>
    Tuesday, September 210:45amThere is One Tropical Cyclone in the Atlantic Basin.Dolly (Tropical Storm)The Center of Dolly located 85 miles ESE of LA Pesca, Mexico and is centered at 23.4N 96.5W with Maximum sustained winds of 50mph and a Minimum Central Pressure of 1005mb (29.68"). This system is moving WNW (300) at 16mph.Watches/Warnings:There are no current watches or warnings in the United States, associated with this system.There is a Tropical Storm Warning in effect for the coastline fro...More >>
  • APD recommends wheel locks to prevent thefts

    APD recommends wheel locks to prevent thefts

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 4:40 PM EDT2014-09-02 20:40:46 GMT
    ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- Alexandria police need your help catching people responsible for stealing wheels and rims off of cars across the city.More >>
    ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- Alexandria police need your help catching people responsible for stealing wheels and rims off of cars across the city.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KALB. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.