Friday, May 22, 2015

Philly District Attorney files appeal of Monsignor William Lynn's overturned conviction

District Attorney Seth Williams has filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the overturned conviction of Monsignor William Lynn.

In the 35-page appeal, Williams argued "the Superior Court erred in holding that a church official who systemically reassigned pedophile priests in a manner that risked further sexual abuse of children did not endanger the welfare of children."

"If, as the Superior Court held, it was legally impossible for defendant to endanger the welfare of children in his individual capacity, the evidence was sufficient to prove his guilt as an accomplice," Williams argued in the appeal.

Late last month, a three-judge panel reversed the priest's conviction and ordered the Archdiocese official to be freed on bail while a ruling by a higher state court weighed whether an official overseeing someone convicted of sexual abuse could in turn be tried under Pennsylvania's child-endangerment laws.

More coverage
  • Dallas neighbors learn truth about Philly priest
  • PDF Lynn appeal
  • It ruled that prosecutors and the Common Pleas judge in the case — the first in the United States in which a church supervisor was convicted of sexual abuse — had misapplied the child-endangerment laws.

    Lynn was freed on $200,000 bail earlier this month after the Archdiocese helped pay for his release.

    Lynn's attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, said while the appeal isn't surprising, its substance is beguiling.

    "What was really unexpected is that they absolutely — for lack of a better word — completely misstate what the Superior Court did," Bergstrom said. "It's just an unrelenting diatribe of the evils of the Catholic Church and none of it formed a basis of a charge or basis of conviction."

    Bergstrom said he would file a response to the appeal within 14 days.

    As has been Williams' modus operandi since Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina allowed for Lynn's release, he didn't mince words in the appeal.

    "The message sent by the Superior Court’s published opinion in this high-profile case is therefore a dismal one – victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of pedophile priests who reluctantly come forward may do so in vain. This Court should not allow that message to stand unreviewed," the appeal states.


    Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

    Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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