D.A. blasts archdiocese for helping Lynn make bail

Posted: January 02, 2014

PHILADELPHIA District Attorney Seth Williams blasted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Tuesday for helping Msgr. William J. Lynn post bail after an appeals court overturned his conviction for crimes related to sex abuse in the church.

Lynn needed to post 10 percent of the $250,000 bail set by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.

Williams said the archdiocese posted the $25,000. The archdiocese, through a spokesman, would only confirm that it assisted with Lynn's bail. The state Department of Corrections website showed that Lynn remained in custody.

"It is disgusting that they would pay to free this man," Williams said at a hastily called news conference, held shortly after 7 p.m. outside the Union League. Williams said he had just found out that the archdiocese had put up the money to free Lynn from prison.

As a former top archdiocesan administrator, Lynn protected pedophiles and the archdiocese is again conducting "business as usual" by "protecting their own," Williams said.

As a Catholic and former altar boy, the prosecutor said, the archdiocese's action had a "profound impact on me."

It has closed churches and schools, Williams said, but it has money for Lynn. "I am shocked and overwhelmed," he said.

Ken Gavin, director of communications for the archdiocese, confirmed that the archdiocese "assisted with the posting of bail for Msgr. Lynn."

In an e-mail, Gavin did not say how much money the archdiocese put up. Gavin did not respond to the district attorney's comments.

Gavin said he did not know whether Lynn might return to ministry.

"It's far too early in all of this process, and there are multiple factors that would need to be taken into account," Gavin said.

Convicted after a three-month trial, Lynn, 62, who as the archdiocesan secretary for clergy supervised priests, was the first Catholic Church official in the country to be tried and imprisoned for crimes related to sex abuse in the church.

Imprisoned since June 2012, he has served 18 months of a three- to six-year sentence imposed by Sarmina.

Last week, Superior Court overturned Sarmina's decision to allow Lynn to be prosecuted under the state's child-endangerment law.

During a hearing Monday, the judge asked that if the conviction was in question, "is not the punishment in question?" She then ruled that Lynn could be freed on bail while the state Supreme Court decides whether his conviction was legal.

Williams has vowed to fight the case to the end. Prosecutors from his office opposed bail, contending that Lynn was a flight risk and that his conviction might be upheld.

As conditions of bail, Lynn will be subject to electronic monitoring and weekly reporting, and must surrender his passport.


bmoran@phillynews.com

215-854-5983 @RobertMoran215

 

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