Court Reverses Milestone Conviction in Priest Abuse

Catholic Church official who supervised guilty priest wins on appeal

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Dec 26, 2013 6:00 PM CST

(Newser) – A Roman Catholic church official who has been jailed for more than a year for his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints had his landmark conviction reversed today. A three-judge Superior Court panel unanimously rejected prosecution arguments that Monsignor William Lynn, the first US church official ever charged or convicted for the handling of clergy-abuse complaints, was legally responsible for an abused boy's welfare in the late 1990s. The original conviction held him responsible because he had supervised a priest who was later found guilty of abuse, but the panel said today that the law should have applied only to those who worked directly with kids, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Lynn, 62, has been serving a three- to six-year prison sentence after his child-endangerment conviction last year. His lawyers hope he can be freed in the next few days, but that issue remains unsettled as the state prepares its next move, an expected appeal. "It's the right result, and it's the right decision," says his lawyer. "It's unfortunate that he had to spend 18 months in prison before we got it." The state DA countered that he is "disappointed and strongly disagree with the court's decision."

Monsignor William Lynn.   (Alex Brandon)
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