Monsignor William Lynn, the high-ranking Philadelphia Catholic Church official convicted of covering up priests’ sexual abuses in a landmark court case, was sentenced to three to six years in prison yesterday. The Washington Post reports that Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said Lynn “enabled monsters in clerical garb … to destroy the souls of children” during his sentencing.

Lynn was charged with child endangerment and conspiracy for allegedly failing to act in response to cases of priest sex abuse of children. He was accused of not removing priests suspected of abusing children and for covering up the scandal. Lynn was convicted on one count of child endangerment, though acquitted on one count of conspiracy and an additional count of child endangerment. This conviction is being hailed as an historic victory, as Lynn is the first senior official in the church to be convicted of covering up sexual abuse by priests.

“We are grateful that Msgr. Lynn was not able to escape with the minimum sentence for his years of concealing heinous crimes against children. But cover ups would be better deterred had he gotten the maximum penalty, and justice would have been better served,” the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote in their media release. “Still, this sentence sends a powerful message: cover-up child sex crimes and you’ll go to jail. Not house arrest. Not community service. Not a fine. You’ll be locked up. It says, loud and clear, that child sex crimes are taken extremely seriously, and will be punished as such.”

Media Resources: Washington Post 7/24/12; SNAP Media Release 7/24/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/25/12

Photo credit to Flickr user Tom Ipri.