Monsignor Lynn not out of prison yet

Posted: January 03, 2014

MONSIGNOR William Lynn has not been released from state prison in northeastern Pennsylvania yet, but life is looking rosier for him in the new year.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on New Year's Eve posted $25,000, or 10 percent of his $250,000 bail, enough to free him.

But Lynn, the Archdiocese's former secretary for clergy, still needs to have his electronic-monitoring system set up and may not be freed "until the end of the week or next week," his attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, said yesterday.

The holiday meant "no one's working," Bergstrom said, so Lynn, who is at the State Correctional Institution at Waymart in Wayne County, will have to wait.

Lynn could be back in Philadelphia in time for his 63rd birthday on Sunday. Bergstrom said Lynn will stay in the city when he is hooked up with an electronic-monitoring ankle bracelet, but would not say specifically where Lynn will live.

At a news conference Tuesday night, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he found it "disgusting that [the Archdiocese] would pay to free this man," the Inquirer reported. Williams, a Catholic and former altar boy, also said he was "shocked and overwhelmed" that the Archdiocese has closed churches and schools, but nonetheless has money for Lynn.

In a 43-page opinion released last week, a three-judge Superior Court panel overturned Lynn's 2012 conviction of felony child endangerment for his questionable oversight of Edward Avery, a now-defrocked priest from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who pleaded guilty in 2012 of sexually assaulting an altar boy in 1998.

Williams has lambasted the ruling and vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Prosecutors had wanted Lynn to remain behind bars while awaiting their appeal.

On Monday, Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina set the $250,000 bail. Under his bail conditions, Lynn is subject to electronic monitoring and weekly reporting, and must surrender his passport. Bergstrom said yesterday that Lynn has surrendered his passport.

In July 2012, Sarmina had sentenced Lynn to three to six years in prison after a jury found that Lynn was solely responsible for allowing pedophile priests to have contact with young boys and shuffling them from parish to parish to keep the abuse quiet.

Lynn, who was the first high-ranking Roman Catholic Church official in the U.S. to be convicted of a crime related to clergy abuse, has spent the last 18 months behind bars.

The Superior Court panel sided with Lynn's defense, who argued that the state child-endangerment law that was in effect while Lynn served as the secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004 applied only to parents and guardians of children.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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