The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Tuesday put up the $25,000 needed to bail out Monsignor William Lynn, and he was released from an upstate prison into the custody of the Philadelphia prison system this morning.
Lynn, the first member of the Roman Catholic Church’s U.S. hierarchy convicted of shielding a child-molesting priest, was released from Waymart Coffectional in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He arrived at the Philadelphia prisons today at noon, according to prisons spokeswoman Shawn Hawes.
She said he would be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet today. He won’t be released until his status is confirmed with a probation officer, which means he could remain in prison overnight.
According to court records, the monsignor was scheduled for a 9 a.m. Monday hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.
Sarmina in 2012 had sentenced Lynn to a three-to-six-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of a child endangerment charge after a three-month trial. He had been serving that sentence for about 18 months when Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed his conviction Dec. 26.
Sarmina agreed to let the clergyman go while Philadelphia’s district attorney appeals the reversal of the monsignor’s historic 2012 child endangerment conviction — if Lynn could post 10 percent of bail she set at $250,000.
That Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese posted that money outraged District Attorney Seth Williams, who learned of the payment New Year’s Eve.
Williams’ spokeswoman, Tasha Jamerson, said Lynn’s attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, stated on the record that the archdiocese would be paying the bail.
“I am shocked and dismayed that the Archdiocese has made it possible for William Lynn to get out of jail,” the DA said in a statement released Dec. 31. “This is a man who was basically an accomplice to serial pedophiles by looking the other way while they tormented innocent children for years. The church has sent a horrible message today to all sexual abuse victims that their pain doesn’t matter. And this action shows that things haven’t changed and it’s business as usual at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
But bail money is only a part of what Lynn must do to be released. Besides requiring the money, Sarmina attached some strings: Lynn must report to the court weekly in Philadelphia and wear an electronic monitoring device. Also, he must surrender his passport.
When Sarmina set bail on Dec. 30, Bergstrom said he doesn’t know where Lynn will get the $25,000 needed to pay 10 percent, but he said he didn’t think it would be a problem. He jokingly asked reporters if any of them wanted to kick in.
Bergstrom had been trying to get Lynn released since Superior Court reversed his conviction. The attorney asked Superior Court judges to free him, but they tossed that decision back to Sarmina.
Williams has vowed today to appeal what he called the Superior Court’s “puzzling” ruling.
“This office will do whatever we can to make sure this decision does not stand,” he said.
Although Lynn’s case was a result of a Philadelphia grand jury investigation of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, the monsignor never was accused of molesting a child. Rather, prosecutors had maintained the monsignor put children at risk by allowing priests he knew to be child molesters to continue in roles that would bring them in contact with minors. ••