Lynn was once a little-known Bevilacqua aide

Posted: June 23, 2012

Msgr. William J. Lynn was a top aide to Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, but little was known publicly about him when his name first surfaced amid the initial allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as a church official investigating the claims.

In 2005, he suddenly became a central figure in a 418-page grand jury report accusing church leaders, including Bevilacqua, of failing to take appropriate actions when priests were accused of abuse. Lynn's name was mentioned 652 times in the report.

He was found guilty Friday of one count of child endangerment, becoming the highest-ranking church official in the country to be convicted of such a crime.

He is still listed as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, according to the church's website and most recent bulletin.

Lynn, 61, was ordained at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1976, his website biography states. He served as parochial vicar at St. Bernard in Northeast Philadelphia and then at St. Katharine of Siena in Wayne.

He was dean of men at the seminary from 1984 until 1992, when he became secretary for clergy under Bevilacqua.

In that position, he oversaw pastoral assignments and investigated allegations of misconduct.

The 2005 grand jury report said Lynn methodically excused sexual-abuse allegations, intimidated victims, and helped transfer accused priests to new parishes. But the grand jury said the statute of limitations had expired on the crimes it alleged.

"Msgr. Lynn's 'investigations' of abuse allegations were designed more to discredit the victims and conceal evidence of their abuse than to ascertain whether their alleged abuser was in fact a sexual abuser of children," the report said.

Lynn appeared before the grand jury 14 times over two years until he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

When the report was made public, Lynn addressed his congregation at St. Joseph, where he had been reassigned in 2004, and insisted: "I would never put a child in harm's way." His homily was met with a standing ovation.

Last year, a new grand jury found what it said was evidence of crimes that could be prosecuted, and Lynn was arrested.

This time, the archdiocese sent another monsignor to address the St. Joseph congregation. He announced that Lynn would be spending time away from the parish.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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