The lawyer for a Catholic cleric whose historic 2012 child-endangerment conviction was reversed late last year asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to deny the District Attorney’s appeal of that reversal.
In papers filed Monday, Monsignor William Lynn’s attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, told the high court that Superior Court’s reversal of the priest’s conviction was “well-reasoned, correct, and consistent with long-standing precedent in that court.” In the same filing, Bergstrom labeled as “dishonest” and “hysterical” the appeal petition filed last month by District Attorney Seth Williams’s office.
In June 2012, Lynn became the highest-placed U.S. Catholic administrator convicted in the Church’s sex scandal that began in 2002.
The monsignor was accused of endangering children by shielding a priest who had molested minors, making it possible for him to later sexually abuse a minor in the Northeast’s St. Jerome’s parish in the late 1990s.. Superior Court judges said the state’s child endangerment statute didn’t apply to Lynn, who had no direct supervisory role over children, which is what the monsignor’s lawyers had maintained since his early 2011 arrest.
In the DA’s petition to appeal the reversal, it was stated the Superior Court had disregarded legal precedents and had changed words in the endangerment statute.
In Monday’s response, Bergstrom said Superior Court had made its decision on a very narrow issue of the state’s child endangerment law and that the DA’s office was attempting to expand the case and is making “a dishonest attempt to deflect this court’s attention from the narrow issue actually before it by shrouding the narrow issue in a cloak of hysteria and emotions.”
Assistant District Attorney Hugh Burns yesterday said Lynn’s response was an attempt to distort the issue and make it look like the DA’s office was trying to trick the high court.
He said the response’s wording was unusual. Usually, lawyers appeal to reason, he said. “That’s what appellate judges like.” ••