Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Priest who knew about abuse and kept quiet given 6-year prison term

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Edmund Burke

Sexual predators in Philadelphia Catholic Churches (and schools!) could not have continued if Msgr. William Lynn had gone to the authorities. Lynn's silence allowed many priests to continue their predation, so it is perhaps appropriate that he got a longer sentence than one priest who abused children. (Of course, there are other cases where it is obvious that the less guilty person got a more severe sentence.)

Philadelphia Monsignor Gets Up to Six Years in Prison
Peter Loftus
Wall Street Journal
July 24, 2012

A Roman Catholic monsignor was sentenced Tuesday to as many as six years in prison for allowing a priest suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor to have continued contact with children.

The penalty for Msgr. William Lynn, 61, came a month after a Philadelphia jury found him guilty of child endangerment. The verdict marked the first time a senior U.S. Church official was convicted of a criminal charge related to allegations of covering up sexual abuse of minors by other priests. Msgr. Lynn, served as secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, a job that included investigating abuse allegations lodged against priests in the diocese.

"You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong," Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina told the cleric before handing down a sentence of three to six years in a state prison.

Before the judge sentenced him, Msgr. Lynn apologized to the abuse victim at the center of the case. "I did the best with what I could…but the fact is my best was not good enough to stop the harm, and for that, I am sorry." Msgr. Lynn wasn't charged with abusing any children.

His conviction was based on evidence that in the 1990s he recommended a new assignment for a priest, Edward Avery, to live in a rectory near a church school despite having determined that Mr. Avery committed sexual misconduct with a boy several years earlier. In his new assignment, Mr. Avery sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999; the now-defrocked Mr. Avery is serving 2½ to five years in prison after pleading guilty in March to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and conspiracy.

Monsignor William Lynn, shown in June, was sentenced to six years in prison for allowing a priest suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor to have continued contact with children.

Msgr. Lynn's sentence fell short of the maximum of 3½ to seven years in prison but was above court guidelines of nine to 18 months. Judge Sarmina said she exceeded the guidelines because Msgr. Lynn endangered children who were exposed to Mr. Avery for several years after Msgr. Lynn became aware of the prior abuse allegations against Mr. Avery. She also said Msgr. Lynn facilitated and supported other accused priests, including one she called a "monster in clerical garb."

"A lesser sentence would depreciate the seriousness of the crime," said Judge Sarmina.

Victims' advocates and prosecutors were hoping for the maximum but said Tuesday the sentence would still send a message. "The message is clear: Victims have to come first, before institutions," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said after the sentencing.

Msgr. Lynn's supporters called the sentence excessive, arguing that his hands were tied because his superiors controlled assignments for priests. Some said it was unfair that Mr. Avery, who pleaded guilty to committing abuse, received a lesser prison term than Msgr. Lynn...

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