Focus at Philadelphia Priests’ Sex Abuse Trial: Who Was In Charge?
By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Evidence in the Philadelphia clergy child-abuse case today has focused on who was in charge — who was responsible for the placement and transfer of alleged and suspected “predator” priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
It has become apparent that priests suspected of preying on children were shuffled, for decades, from one parish to another in the Philadelphia archdiocese (see related stories).
But the defense contends that defendant Msgr. William Lynn, who is charged with endangering children by allowing the suspect priests to remain in ministry, wasn’t responsible.
Although he was the archdiocese’s Secretary for Clergy — handling personnel matters including allegations of misconduct — the defense contends the archbishop had final say and signed the papers on all personnel moves.
But the prosecution has presented a series of documents from the archdiocese’s “secret archives” concerning an alleged predator priest who wanted a promotion to pastor. In these documents, the late cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua referred this matter to Msgr. Lynn for consideration, and for his action.
The trial of Lynn and codefendant James Brennan continues in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court before Judge Teresa Sarmina. Another defendant, a defrocked priest named Edward Avery, pleaded guilty just before the trial began (see related story).
Brennan is charged with sexually abusing a boy. Both he and Lynn have pleaded not guilty.