Northeast Times

House arrest for Lynn?

— Con­victed felon Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn hopes for a taste of free­dom be­fore he is sen­tenced.

Wil­li­am Lynn’s at­tor­ney, Jeff Lindy, in front of the court­house after the judge de­cides not to let Lynn out on bail un­til his sen­tence, Tues­day, June 26, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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A judge is con­sid­er­ing al­low­ing house ar­rest for the first highly placed mem­ber of the na­tion’s Ro­man Cath­ol­ic hier­archy to be con­victed in a sex-ab­use case. Com­mon Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina heard ar­gu­ments Tues­day on wheth­er to al­low Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn to stay at the Lower North­east home of an in-law un­til he is sen­tenced on Aug. 13.

The judge made no de­cision, but said she would do so on Thursday, Ju­ly 5.

A jury found the 61-year-old monsignor guilty on Fri­day of one count of en­dan­ger­ing chil­dren. He im­me­di­ately was taken in­to cus­tody and spent the week­end in jail.

Lynn ap­peared with his at­tor­neys be­fore the judge on Tues­day. He was wear­ing a black shirt, which was ab­sent, for the first time, of his cler­ic­al col­lar.

Even if Sarmina had gran­ted Lynn’s house ar­rest re­quest im­me­di­ately, he would have re­mained in cus­tody in the Cur­ran-From­hold Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­ity on State Road for three to four weeks while ar­range­ments were made for his re­lease, in­clud­ing fit­ting him with an elec­tron­ic mon­it­or­ing brace­let.

Lynn has asked to stay in the home of Rita De­Car­ol­is, who is an in-law of one of his in-laws.

The time it would take to set up house ar­rest promp­ted As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Patrick Bless­ing­ton to la­bel the at­tempt as ab­surd be­cause he es­tim­ated Lynn would be free for only about three weeks be­fore he was sen­tenced.

Al­though ac­quit­ted of two oth­er charges, Lynn faces from three and a half years to sev­en years im­pris­on­ment.  Bless­ing­ton said he would ask for the max­im­um sen­tence. Lynn’s at­tor­neys are pre­par­ing to ap­peal the con­vic­tion once Sarmina sen­tences their cli­ent.

Those at­tor­neys, Thomas Bergstrom and Jeff Lindy, ar­gued Tues­day that Lynn was not a flight risk or a danger to the com­munity and should not re­main in­car­cer­ated while he awaits sen­ten­cing.

Point­ing to pages ly­ing on the desk be­fore him, Lindy said, “I’d eat these pieces of pa­per” if Lynn fled.

Mean­while, the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice is con­sid­er­ing wheth­er to retry Lynn’s co-de­fend­ant, the Rev. James Bren­nan. The jury of sev­en men and five wo­men, who had been de­lib­er­at­ing since June 1, could not reach a ver­dict on at­temp­ted rape and child en­dan­ger­ment charges. There was no word this week on when a de­cision on Bren­nan’s case will be made.

On Tues­day, Bless­ing­ton ar­gued Lynn has more in­cent­ive to flee now be­cause he had spent a few days in a cell and “has had a taste of jail.”

The pro­sec­utor also said that, be­cause Lynn is priest in the Ro­man Cath­ol­ic Church, which ex­ists world­wide, he could leave the coun­try, as­sume an­oth­er name and “blend in.” There is no ex­tra­di­tion treaty with the Vat­ic­an, Bless­ing­ton said.

Sarmina asked Lynn if he would be will­ing to sign an ex­tra­di­tion waiver so he could be brought back from the Vat­ic­an if he fled there, and Lynn quickly said he would.

Al­though the judge made no rul­ing Tues­day, she al­lowed the house-ar­rest pro­cess to be­gin, but said she wanted pro­sec­utors to see if the Vat­ic­an, the seat of the Cath­ol­ic church, would hon­or an ex­tra­di­tion waiver, and she wanted Lynn’s at­tor­neys to ex­plain to him the con­sequences of flee­ing.

Lynn’s broth­er James put up 10 per­cent of the monsignor’s $50,000 bail in Feb­ru­ary 2011. Sarmina doubled the bail on Tues­day.

A LEG­AL FIRST

The monsignor is the first high-rank­ing Cath­ol­ic cler­ic in the United States charged — and con­victed — of en­dan­ger­ing chil­dren. He was ac­cused of shield­ing an­oth­er priest he knew was a mo­lester and, be­cause he kept that pred­at­or priest in his min­istry, the man was able to sexu­ally ab­use an­oth­er vic­tim.

That man is Ed­ward Avery, who un­til days be­fore the tri­al began was one of Lynn’s co-de­fend­ants.

Avery, now de­frocked, had been ac­cused of mo­lest­ing a 10-year-old al­tar boy in the late 1990s at St. Jerome par­ish in the Winchester Park sec­tion of North­east Phil­adelphia. He pleaded guilty to the crime just days be­fore the tri­al began and im­me­di­ately was sen­tenced to two and a half to five years in pris­on.

His vic­tim test­i­fied at the tri­al and is likely to be on the stand dur­ing the tri­als of two of Lynn’s oth­er former co-de­fend­ants if their tri­als be­gin in Septem­ber as sched­uled.

That vic­tim is now an adult. He has ac­cused the Rev. Charles En­gel­hardt of mo­lest­ing him be­fore Avery did, and he has ac­cused Bern­ard Shero, a former St. Jerome par­ish school teach­er, of mo­lest­ing him after Avery did.

Shero and En­gel­hardt were ar­res­ted in Feb­ru­ary 2011 along with Lynn, Avery and Bren­nan after a grand jury in­vest­ig­ated their activ­it­ies. En­gel­hardt, an Ob­late of St. Fran­cis De­Sales, and Shero saw their cases sep­ar­ated from the oth­er de­fend­ants months be­fore Lynn and Bren­nan went on tri­al. Their tri­al be­gins Sept. 4.

The grand jury began in­vest­ig­at­ing Avery and En­gel­hardt after the arch­diocese re­por­ted them to au­thor­it­ies. That probe widened to in­clude Shero, Lynn and then Bren­nan, who was ac­cused of try­ing to rape a 14-year-old Bucks County boy in 1996.

Bren­nan’s case was not easy for jur­ors, their fore­man, Isa Lo­gan, told re­port­ers after their ver­dicts were an­nounced. Jur­ors  were split, he said, and would not budge either way on their po­s­i­tions. Lo­gan said jur­ors looked at the facts of the case and the de­fend­ants, not a lar­ger pic­ture of how their de­cisions would af­fect the Cath­ol­ic Church.

A dea­con in a West Phil­adelphia non-de­nom­in­a­tion­al church, Lo­gan stressed that faith did not play a role in the ver­dict. He said the jur­ors were very open-minded and very in­tel­li­gent.

For him, a U.S. Army vet­er­an, he said, the evid­ence that Cath­ol­ic priests had mo­les­ted chil­dren was bey­ond his ex­per­i­ence.

“I nev­er knew stuff like this hap­pens,” he said Fri­day. ••

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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