Convicted priest may get house arrest

Defense attorneys say Monsignor William Lynn should be able to stay with a relative until he is sentenced Aug. 13. Find a related photo gallery at philly.com/priestphotos. David Maialetti / Staff Photographer
Defense attorneys say Monsignor William Lynn should be able to stay with a relative until he is sentenced Aug. 13. Find a related photo gallery at philly.com/priestphotos. David Maialetti / Staff Photographer
Posted: June 28, 2012

A PHILADELPHIA judge on Tuesday indicated that she may let convicted child offender Monsignor William Lynn out of jail in favor of house arrest to await his sentence if all of her concerns are satisfied by the next hearing on July 5.

Lynn, 61, who has been in a city jail cell since a jury convicted him of child endangerment on Friday, attended the bail hearing wearing his black priest uniform minus the white cleric collar.

Among the conditions that Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina wants in place is a waiver for Lynn to sign that would allow him to be extradited from any foreign country to which he might flee, including Vatican City, the home of the Catholic Church, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S. If released, Lynn would wear an ankle monitor.

Lynn's attorneys told Sarmina that he should be allowed to stay at the Philadelphia home of Rita DeCarolis, a relative by marriage, until he is sentenced Aug. 13 because he is not a flight risk and they need to work with him to prepare for the sentencing.

"He is absolutely no risk," said defense attorney Jeffrey Lindy.

"If he was to flee, what would you say?" Sarmina asked.

"If he was to flee, I would eat these pieces of paper that I typed up," replied Lindy, who noted that Lynn has no prior convictions and a long work history in the community and that he showed up on time to every prior court date.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington bristled that Lynn was not entitled to house arrest under the law and did not deserve it, in part, because he and his attorneys last week told the judge that he did not have a passport when he actually did. The passport was handed over during Tuesday's hearing.

"It's about flight and whether or not there is an incentive for flight. … Now he's had a taste of jail and he knows what it's like. That is incentive enough for him to say, ‘I'm not going back,'" said Blessington, who said he would ask for the maximum sentence of 3?1/2 to seven years.

"It's incomprehensible that he wouldn't get the maximum sentence," added Blessington, who gave Sarmina a Chicago Tribune article about 32 Catholic priests who fled justice after being arrested since 1985.

Sarmina declined the prosecutor's request to hike Lynn's bail up to $1 million from $50,000, and instead increased it to $100,000, of which he would have to pay 10 percent if she orders that he be released on house arrest.

She warned Lynn that if he were released and failed to show for his sentencing, she would sentence him to the maximum term in absentia, he'd be prosecuted for escape and he would lose all of his appellate rights.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or deanm@phillynews.com.

|
|
|
|
|