Monsignor William Lynn is a free man for the first time in more than four years, but District Attorney Seth Williams has vowed to retry a child endangerment case involving Lynn’s supervisory role of abusive parish priests in the 1990s and early 2000s, including at least one at St. Jerome’s in the Northeast.
During a hearing in the city’s Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday, Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn Bright granted Lynn $250,000 bail as the prosecutor’s office told the court it intended to re-file the case. The bail hearing came six days after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s reversal of Lynn’s 2012 conviction, for which he was sentenced to serve three to six years in state prison.
Lynn, 65, has served 33 months behind bars, along with 15 months of house arrest, and was to be paroled in October. Typically, Lynn would have to post 10 percent of the bail amount, but the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had already posted $25,000 on Lynn’s behalf, according to journalist Ralph Cipriano, who has reported extensively on the case through BigTrial.net and other media outlets.
Lynn was the highest-ranking Catholic clergyman in the country convicted in connection with sex abuse within the church, although he has never been accused of abusing a child, personally. Rather, his conviction was based on his role as the archdiocesan secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, a job that included assigning priests.
Prosecutors accused him of assigning known pedophile priests to ministries involving children. A 12-person jury agreed. But the state Superior Court later overturned the conviction, ruling that the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, improperly allowed the prosecution to present evidence and testimony involving sexual abuse cases dating back to 1948 in which Lynn had no supervisory role.
Lynn’s backers, including defense attorney Thomas A. Bergstrom, have argued that Lynn was made a scapegoat for the improper handling of sex abuse complaints by the senior leadership of the archdiocese. ••