Monsignor Lynn released from state prison

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. ••

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