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By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In Philadelphia’s landmark clergy sex abuse trial, Defendant Monsignor William Lynn returns to the stand on Tuesday morning, entering a seventh hour of cross-examination.
Lynn’s defending himself against charges that he endangered children, while in his role as Secretary of the Clergy from 1992 to 2004 — while working for the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.
Prosecutors have built their case around documents and testimony they believe proves that Lynn kept in ministry, priests who were known to sexually abuse children.
Just as the jury listens to Lynn’s defense which opened on Tuesday, observers in the courtroom are weighing the evidence too.
“No doubt about it, there are tough questions that he has to answer,” said John White, a parishioner from Monsignor Lynn’s Downingtown parish. He and 14 others traveled from Chester County to Philadelphia to give him moral support.
Fritz DiOttavio is one of the women who sat in the back of the courtroom, praying the rosary.
“We all like him very much,” said DiOttavio.
“We are concerned with how is being treated and certainly concerned about how this trial with come out,” said White.
The concern is well placed. Lynn testified that notorious cases of abuse by priests fell through the cracks. Lynn told the jury, “I’m not perfect. I did the best I could.”
Virtually all of the cases that came to him while Secretary of the Clergy were allegations from adults who had suffered at the hands of priests when they were adolescents, and beyond the statute of limitation for prosecution. The priests denied the allegations.
Still when asked by Assistant D.A. Patrick Blessington, “How many times did you pick up the phone and call the police?” Lynn’s answer was, “None.”
Former D.A. Lynn Abraham empanelled the Grand Jury which cracked open this scandal.
“This was something that everybody had a right to know,” said Abraham. “That there were pedophiles in the priesthood… men who were sexually assaulting boys and girls for their own sexual gratification. Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol before him knew that it was going on and did nothing but lie, deny and cover up. And that’s the real problem for the church.”
Now, with both Cardinals dead, that “real problem” is at the feet of 61-year-old Monsignor William Lynn.