Key Witness Says Philadelphia Clergy Lied To Hide List of Predator Priests
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By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A longtime lawyer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia says a deceased Roman Catholic cardinal and his top aides lied about shredding a key piece of evidence in the clergy-abuse scandal.
Tim Coyne, recently suspended as an archdiocesan lawyer, testified today that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua never replied to his requests, in 2004 and again in 2006, for the internal list compiled in 1994 of potentially dangerous priests.
Coyne says Bevilacqua’s top aides — including Monsignor William Lynn, bishop-elect Edward Cullen (through an attorney), and monsignors James Molloy and Joseph Cistone — all denied they had the list or knew its whereabouts.
Prosecutors pursuing a grand jury investigation (see previous story) were seeking the list of 35 alleged or admittedly abusive priests compiled by Lynn. One copy of the list turned up in a safe in the archdiocesan offices in 2006, was turned over to Lynn’s successor, and was revealed to authorities earlier this year, shortly after Bevilacqua died (see related story).
An attached memo says Bevilacqua, the same year the list was drawn up, ordered top aides to shred it.
Lynn, the secretary for clergy, is now on trial, charged with child endangerment for allegedly helping the archdiocese keep predatory priests in ministry.
Attorneys for Lynn contend he was not involved in the shredding conspiracy, and they dispute it was his safe in which the list was found in 2006. A Lynn attorney says his client was trying to address the issue that superiors in the church were covering up.