After a three-month trial, Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia has been found guilty of one count of endangering children in the archdiocese for which he served as secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004. The jury was shown evidence that Lynn had concealed reports of alleged sexual abuse by priests and had not acted strongly to keep molesters away from children, nor did he report suspected abusers to criminal authorities. Lynn was acquitted of a second endangerment count and a third count, of conspiracy.
Lynn is now the first senior church official to be convicted of a cover-up in the priest sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church over the last 10 years. He faces 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison.
The monsignor was prosecuted along with Rev. James Brennan, but the jury deadlocked on a verdict and a mistrial was declared. Brennan was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy.
Those who have worked hard to bring abusing priests to justice are heartened by the decision, and hope it empowers prosecutors in other locales to take action against church higher-ups who failed to stem sexual abuse. Barbara Dorris of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), told The New York Times:
The guilty verdict sends a strong and clear message that shielding and enabling predator priests is a heinous crime that threatens families, communities and children, and must be punished as such.
For more on the case and its outcome, see here and here.
Photo of statue holding scales of justice, Adelaide, Australia, from Flickr user mikecogh under license from Creative Commons 2.0