Judge denies house arrest for Monsignor Lynn

While wait­ing for sen­ten­cing, to be held Ju­ly 24, Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn will cool his heels in a jail cell.

Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn, the first highly placed Ro­man Cath­ol­ic of­fi­cial con­victed in a sex-ab­use case, will stay in jail while he awaits sen­ten­cing, which has been moved up to Ju­ly 24.

Com­mon Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina on Thursday re­jec­ted a re­quest to al­low Lynn to live un­der house ar­rest in the Lower North­east home of Rita De­Car­ol­is, an eld­erly in-law’s in-law.

“After due con­sid­er­a­tion, the mo­tion is denied,” Sarmina ruled, and did not elab­or­ate. 

The judge did grant a de­fense re­quest to move up Lynn’s sen­ten­cing date, which was ori­gin­ally set for Aug. 13.

On June 22, a jury found the 61-year-old monsignor guilty of one count of en­dan­ger­ing chil­dren while ac­quit­ting him of two oth­er charges. He was taken in­to cus­tody and has been held in the Cur­ran-From­hold Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­ity on State Road.

Lynn faces from three and a half years to sev­en years im­pris­on­ment.

As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Patrick Bless­ing­ton said he will ask for the max­im­um sen­tence.  Lynn’s at­tor­neys said they will ap­peal the con­vic­tion once Sarmina sen­tences their cli­ent.

In ask­ing for house ar­rest, Lynn’s law­yers, Thomas Bergstrom and Jeff Lindy, said their cli­ent was ready to give up his pass­port, sign a waiver of ex­tra­di­tion with the Vat­ic­an and put up ad­di­tion­al bail to get out of jail, if only for a few weeks be­fore sen­ten­cing.

“He’s not go­ing any­where,” Bergstrom said. “He’s not go­ing to flee.”

Lynn’s po­s­i­tion in the church hier­archy was keep­ing him in jail, the at­tor­ney said.

“If he were any oth­er de­fend­ant, he would be out,” Bergstrom said.

The judge asked Bergstrom if he were will­ing to serve Lynn’s sen­tence if the monsignor fled, and the law­yer said he was so con­fid­ent of his cli­ent that he would agree to that.

Be­fore Sarmina denied the mo­tion, Bless­ing­ton called the law­yer’s of­fer ab­surd, and also said any agree­ment Lynn signed to waive ex­tra­di­tion if he fled to the Vat­ic­an was worth­less. He said there is no U.S.-Vat­ic­an ex­tra­di­tion treaty. If Lynn were to flee to the seat of the Ro­man Cath­ol­ic Church, the United States would have no leg­al right to ask for his re­turn.

The head of a sur­viv­ors’ sup­port group said she thought Sarmina did the right thing in deny­ing house ar­rest.

“Some may view this de­cision as harsh,” said Bar­bara Blaine, pres­id­ent of SNAP, the Sur­viv­ors Net­work of those Ab­used by Priests. “We con­sider it just and smart. And we hope it will help end cur­rent cov­er-ups and de­ter fu­ture cov­er-ups by Cath­ol­ic of­fi­cials across the coun­try.”

The Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice has not yet made a de­cision on wheth­er to retry Lynn’s co-de­fend­ant, the Rev. James Bren­nan. The jury of sev­en men and five wo­men could not reach a ver­dict on at­temp­ted rape and child en­dan­ger­ment charges against Bren­nan.

Lynn was ac­quit­ted of en­dan­ger­ing chil­dren for al­legedly shield­ing Bren­nan and also was ac­quit­ted of en­ga­ging in a con­spir­acy to pro­tect mo­lester priests. 

Jur­ors, however, found Lynn guilty of en­dan­ger­ing chil­dren in re­gard to Ed­ward Avery, a now de­frocked priest Lynn had in­vest­ig­ated. Pro­sec­utors blamed Lynn for Avery’s mo­lesta­tion of a North­east Phil­adelphia al­tar boy that oc­curred after the monsignor had in­vest­ig­ated the priest. 

De­fense at­tor­neys countered that Lynn didn’t have the power to re­move priests and that only his boss, Car­din­al An­thony Bevilac­qua did. The car­din­al, the former arch­bish­op of Phil­adelphia, died in Janu­ary.

Un­til days be­fore Bren­nan and Lynn were to go on tri­al March 26, Avery was their co-de­fend­ant. But Avery pleaded guilty to mo­lest­ing a 10-year-old al­tar boy in the late 1990s at St. Jerome par­ish in Winchester Park and was sen­tenced to two and a half to five years in pris­on.

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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