Overturned Conviction Doesn’t Make Msgr. Lynn Innocent

A timing technicality or interpretation of the law may set Msgr. Lynn free, but it does not relieve him of moral or ethical guilt. While once again victims are robbed of justice, the evidence was crystal clear during his trial. The memos and letters proved the archdiocese covered up clergy child sex abuse with the knowledge of many Church administrators, including Lynn. No court decision lessens the horrific nature of his actions. The fact that others were more or just as guilty doesn’t lessen his own responsibility as a human being. Whether or not Lynn sits in jail, the world knows what happened in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In the face of this injustice, let’s seek a meaningful and longer lasting justice for the future. It’s time for window legislation in Pennsylvania. It’s time for the statute of limitations to be removed. Let’s make it happen in 2014.

Click here to read, “Monsignor William Lynn conviction overturned by Pa. court; D.A. ‘most likely’ to appeal,” by Alex Wigglesworth, for Philly.com, December 26, 2013

24 thoughts on “Overturned Conviction Doesn’t Make Msgr. Lynn Innocent

    1. “There is little doubt that the priests directly supervising children at the church fall within that definition, but Monsignor Lynn is in a different position from them, raising questions as to whether or not he has “a duty of care, protection or support” to the abused children. As the Pennsylvania Superior Court said years ago, “The Crimes Code nowhere defines this duty,” Commonwealth v. Barnhart, 497 A. 2d 616 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1985), and it has never before been applied against a supervisor of an abuser. In Commonwealth v. Halye, 719 A. 2d 763 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1998), the Superior Court overturned the child endangerment conviction of a victim’s uncle who had sexually abused his nephew because “No testimony was presented to indicate that Appellant was asked to supervise the children or that such a role was expected of him.” Then again, the Superior Court has also said “the common sense of the community should be considered when interpreting the language of the statute.” Commonwealth v. Brown, 721 A.2d 1105, 1106-07 (Pa.Super.1998). Do you think the “common sense of the community” implies a duty on supervising clergy to prevent child abuse”


      Was the amendment added to clarify the statute? As this person is a Man of God” and is part of the chain of command, should common sense enter into interpreting the language? The Supreme Court may be the best venue to interpret the law and stop this nonsense of allowing the Church and other organizations a free pass

  1. What a disgrace! Lynn DID conceal abuse by knowingly “reassigning priests to new parishes while he served as the archdiocese’s secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004.” There is NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. Documents and records offered into the record at his trial made that abundantly clear. I attended Lynn’s trial.

    I don’t care whose “ORDERS” Lynn followed whether Bevilaequa’s, Krol’s or even O’Hara’s!

    It is appalling that the laws in the state of Pennsylvania have been so ineffective that none of these enablers, facilitators and cover-up-ers have gone to jail.

    Read the 2005 and 2011 Grand Jury Reports on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I certainly hope and pray that District Attorney Seth Williams WILL APPEAL THIS DECISION. There should be no “likely” about it.


    Shame on the People of Pennsylvania. What is the point of updating the MANDATED REPORTER STATUTES if the underlying laws are so poor?

    Sister Maureen

  2. What I don’t understand is this – I have two family members who are in Catholic education. There is mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse that is a law in PA – “A person who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of a profession, comes into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with section 6313 when the person has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of their medical, professional or other training and experience, that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that person or of an agency, institution, organization or other entity with which that person is affiliated (Act 179 a/o May 2007) is a victim of child abuse, including child abuse by an individual who is not a perpetrator, shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with section 6313.”

    So how does Lynn get off? Legally – forget about morally because we have already established that there are none – he should be obligated to report, should he not?

    1. Owlfan, I think you may already have the answer:

      Act 179 a/o May 2007

      “2007” It may be-may be I say because I don’t have the wording of the actual bill in front of me – that there’s no retroactive action possible be with this law which is a criminal statute.

      Sister Maureen

      1. I realize that the law was not in effect when Lynn compiled the list of immoral acts the diocese needed to cover up, but if he knew it in 2004, would he also not know it in 2007? If he did not come forward in 2007, isn’t he still legally liable as a person with knowledge of child abusers working with children in the community?

        1. paradox, I believe the Lynn guilty verdict in regards to the child endangerment was in relation to the endangerment of “Billy” of abuse by Avery, which Avery plead guilty. It was in relation to a specific case of abuse which happened in 1999.
          The argument has been the law in 1999 did not “cover’ Lynn in his role as supervisor of priests, because he was not directly involved in the supervision of children, such as parents and caregivers. The law was amended in 2006.

  3. owlfan, the laws have changed over the past few years..some as recently as last week when Corbett signed new laws in response to the Penn State and Catholic Church official’s actions. The laws in Pennsylvania have been notoriously deficient for years , earning Pa. the nickname of a predator friendly state. These same crimes could have prosecuted in another state with no controversy of interpretation because of better laws on the books.

  4. Just makes me sick! So, what is the call on the Archdiocese’s response to this? Do they further make Lynn the scapegoat and issue a no comment? Or, do they take this as vindication and proof that the trial and Grand Jury Report was a witch hunt? Bets?

    1. It should make everybody sick, and so much for Francis and his rhetoric to many to mention here…..what a contradiction.

  5. So does Monsignor Lynn return to his clerical duties within the Philadelphia Catholic Church?
    The church says it supports victims but I imagine today, “big smiles” and “high fives” at the 2’s. They just won another victory in their crimes against children and families. They make a mockery of victims, the criminal justice system and the Grand Jury Reports (which everyone should get a copy of) and all those who testified with courage and tears at that trial. I hate reading the AD carefully worded statements, Kathy.

    1. The reply from the AD is nauseating. Read it carefully because they talk about the present and the future while ignoring the past. Flynn is past history and therefor can be ignored. How many millions of dollars has the AD of Philadelphia spent to free Lynn and itself of responsibility for past decisions that resulted in more abuse victims while spending as little as possible on the actual abuse victims.

      I wish Catholics would wake up. This is not a Church about Jesus Christ. It is basically an enculturated faith about a church whose most precious resource is it’s resurrected founder, but those men who are ordained to pretend they act in His stead.

    LAST UPDATED: Thursday, December 26, 2013

    “Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he will most likely appeal the Superior Court’s reversal Thursday of the conviction of Monsignor William Lynn.”

    There’s hope!

  7. The whole thing is absolutely sickening. Ruined my Christmas. What awful news! No one gets punished (but the victims) in this mess, and the guilty walk free. One step forward every now and then, but twelve steps backward! I just hope today’s action doesn’t cause any more of the victims to commit suicide or overdose because of the lack of justice in the face of their sufferings.

  8. Accountable???…………That’s what our Church leadership pays their attorneys for……to ensure accountabilIty…………not THEIRS of course..

    But wait, do you actually think that the God and Jesus we all learned about, believe in and have our faith in over these many, many years of Catholic education and instruction actually uses MAN’S LAWS as the ruler by which to judge our behavior, conduct and decision-making?

  9. I’m not sure what to say.

    I’m a mix of emotions and thoughts on this one. I wouldn’t want Lynn serving time for a crime he didnt commit. But, he did commit it. Yet, as the law was written at the time, it seems he shouldn’t have been tried in the first placed for that crime.

    It’s a long term “win” for the rcc…they will always fight on technicalities, so they lower their risk of liability by other victims not coming forward. Intimidation tactics.

    Well, higher than any court in this country is the God they claim to serve. They are guilty. Their actions do not speak of repentance or humility or anything Christ-like. Their statement is a slap in the face to Catholics everywhere.

    I’m so sickened by our laws in this country when considering the protection of children and justice for victims.

    Walk free Lynn. But, you will always be known in my book as the man who looked the other way while children were in danger. The cog in a wheel of an orchestrated cover-up. One of many men who saved their own a** at the expense of children. You are one of many who walk free, but will forever be imprisoned by the lies of your leadership. You cannot be trusted to do what is right, as a man or as a priest.

    Praying for victims and their families.

  10. I completely agree with you. Once again, if you can afford the best lawyers, you have nothing to worry about. There is no justice in this life.

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