The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, June 6, 2011
Top Philly Catholic staffer defends himself; SNAP responds
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949 322 7434, email@example.com)
We are saddened but not surprised that a top Philadelphia Catholic official defends himself on a hair-splitting technicality. Msgr. Lynn cannot claim “I didn’t endanger kids.” So he’s left claiming “the child endangerment law doesn’t apply to me.”
We hope that Lynn’s morally corrupt defense will prompt others who saw, suspected and suffered from his cover ups will come forward to prosecutors. We hope more charges against him are forthcoming.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Posted on Mon, Jun. 6, 2011
Priest’s lawyers argue endangerment charge does not apply
By Nancy Phillips - Inquire Staff Writer
Lawyers for Msgr. William Lynn, charged with child endangerment for allegedly enabling abusive priests, said today prosecutors erred in bringing a criminal case against him, and they will ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Lynn, the former secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese, is the first member of the Catholic church hierarchy in the nation to be criminally charged for assigning known abusers to posts that gave them access to new victims. Lynn, 60, the former pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Downingtown, has pleaded not guilty.
He was arrested on February along with two priests, the Rev. James Brennan and the Rev. Charles Engelhardt; a defrocked priest, Edward Avery; and Bernard Shero, a former parochial schoolteacher who prosecutors say raped and sodomized altar boys in the mid-1990s. They have pleaded not guilty to rape, conspiracy and other charges.
Lawyers for Brennan, Engelhardt, Avery and Shero said Monday that prosecutors had offered to recommend prison sentences of 7 ½ to 15 years if the men would plead guilty. Each rejected that, the lawyers told Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Ransom.
Brennan, 47, is charged with raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1996 while on leave from Cardinal O'Hara High School.
Engelhardt, 64, Avery, 68 and Bernard Shero, 48, a former teacher at St. Jerome's School in Northeast Philadelphia are charged with raping and sexually assaulting a boy in the parish beginning in 1998, when he was 10.
The judge scheduled a July hearing for arguments on whether prosecutors erred in charging Lynn with child endangerment, an offense that his lawyers said did not apply to his conduct. Under Pennsylvania law, child endangerment charges may be brought against parents, guardians or people who are "supervising the welfare of children," his lawyers said in court papers.
Lynn, whose job it was to review allegations against priests accused of sex abuse and recommending new assignments, was too far removed from children for the statute to apply, said the lawyers, Thomas A. Bergstrom and Jeffrey M. Lindy.
A Philadelphia grand jury, in a February report critical of the church's handling of child sexual abuse, concluded that criminal charges against Lynn were appropriate, and prosecutors agreed.
Ransom is expected to decide the issue next month.
The judge also will hear arguments that prosecutors improperly charged all of the defendants with conspiracy. Defense lawyers said the charge was inappropriate because some of them did not even know each other. Prosecutors say abundant evidence of a conspiracy is contained in the nearly 5,000 pages of documents that were reviewed by the grand jury and has now been turned to over to defense lawyers.
Also at Monday's hearing, the judge rejected a request from Engelhardt that he be released from a condition of bail that confined him to the state of Pennsylvania.
His lawyer, Michael McGovern, asked permission for the priest to travel back and forth to the Jersey Shore to visit relatives in Sea Isle City. The judge shook her head at the request.
"I'm not going to set it up so it's summer at the shore," she said. "Pick a weekend."
McGovern settled on the July 4 holiday. He then lamented, "He'll just have to get used to visiting Scranton, Pittsburgh and Erie."
"He doesn't have to travel at all," replied Ransom. "He can stay home in Philadelphia and make himself happy just like the rest of us."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests