This day—and the relief, vindication and healing it gives clergy sex abuse victims—is long overdue. The guilty verdict sends a strong and clear message that shielding and enabling predator priests is a heinous crime that threatens families, communities and children, and must be punished as such. It is also the criminal justice system's "shot across the bow," sending a clear signal to all institutions: “Protect kids, oust predators or go to jail.”
The evidence against Msgr. Lynn was overwhelming. Perpetrators have been enabled and free to prey on children because Catholic officials like Lynn hid crimes, intimidated whistle blowers, discredited witnesses, destroyed evidence and fabricated alibis. This verdict provides a measure of justice for every child who was hurt in the archdiocese and was forced to suffer in shame and silence as their perpetrator roamed freely with the help and blessing of top church officials.
The unsung heroes of this case are the dozens of victims, witnesses and whistleblowers who bravely came forward to testify. Many told harrowing stories of how they were horribly abused by priests they trusted, while others explained their frustration when they went to church officials for help but were ignored, deceived and maligned. We are grateful to these courageous men and women for their efforts to protect kids, expose wrongdoing and get healing. They refused to remain silent and did the right thing by going to law enforcement and not church officials.
We hope that the judge will impose the stiffest possible sentence to deter this kind of self-serving secrecy and deceit in the future – in the church and other institutions. Children are safer when predators and those who shield them are behind bars.
I hope states, and federal prosecutors will let Philadelphiaâs example of protecting children empower them with a new resolve to vigorously pursue the church or any other institution that cover up these despicable crimes against children, by prosecution them, and enacting stronger laws such as the repeal of the statute of limitationsâ for sex abuse, so no crime against an innocent child will go unpunished because of an arbitrary time limit.
If you’ve been victimized by clergy, please know that you are not alone. You can get better. You can reach out to others who’ve been hurt just like you have. Together, we can heal one another. Location: Chicago, IL 60622
Web address: www.snapnetwork.org
Annette Nestler-SNAP Southern New Jeresy