By Tony Hanson, Walt Hunter and Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A monsignor who served as secretary of clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was convicted today of endangering the welfare of a child, in a landmark case that has rocked the Catholic Church for months and years.
A Philadelphia jury today convicted Msgr. William Lynn on one count of child endangerment. No verdicts were returned regarding a co-defendant in the case, Father James Brennan, who was charged with attempted rape of a boy. The jury announced that it was deadlocked on charges against Brennan and was unable to reach a verdict (see previous story).
Lynn was convicted of conspiring to endanger a child in a case revolving around a third priest, Edward Avery.
Avery pleaded guilty shortly before the trial began to sexually assaulting a boy in 1999 (see related stories).
The jury also acquitted Lynn of two other charges: endangering a child in the case against Brennan, and conspiracy in the Brennan case.
WEB EXTRA: Brennan And Lawyers Speak After Verdict
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said about the verdict, “This monumental case will change the way business done.”
LISTEN RAW AUDIO: DA Seth Williams Response To Verdict
Lynn faces 3½ to seven years in prison on the conspiracy conviction. Defense lawyers and prosecutors went at it in the courtroom, after the jury was excused, over whether Monsignor Lynn should go directly to prison.
Monsignor Lynn’s attorneys argued for house arrest, but Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington countered the case and called for a ‘tough jail sentence.
Judge Teresea Sarmina decided to revoke Lynn’s bail. But the Judge did say she would consider a motion for house arrest.
Defense lawyer Thomas Bergstrom:
“We’re going to be filing motions on Monday to see if we can’t get this house arrest situation straightened out.”
Defense lawyer William J. Brennan says he’ll pitch the DA’s office against trying Father James Brennan again:
“If a conviction can’t be obtained with all of this extraneous evidence that didn’t relate to him but still soiled and tarnished him, I would think it’s not going to get any better in the future.’
Monsignor Lynn is scheduled to be sentenced in mid-August.
Later this afternoon, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement which said in part:
“The lessons of the last year have made our Church a more vigilant guardian of our people’s safety. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is on a journey of reform and renewal that requires honesty and hope. …
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia offers a heartfelt apology to all victims of clergy sexual abuse. Now and in the future, the Church will continue to take vigorous steps to ensure safe church environments for all the faithful in Philadelphia.”