Monsignor William Lynn, locked up since his historic June 2012 child endangerment conviction, is no longer in custody.
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 Thursday morning. He arrived at the Philadelphia prisons by noon yesterday, according to prisons spokeswoman Shawn Hawes, and was released from custody this morning.
The monsignor is as free as he is going to be under the conditions of his bail, his attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, said this morning.
He will have to remain at a residence in Philadelphia.
“He’s got to stay put,” Bergstrom said. The attorney said that, for reasons of Lynn’s personal security, he couldn’t say with whom the monsignor will reside or even in what part of the city he’ll be living.
Lynn was kept in Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road to be fitted by an electronic monitoring device and meet with a probation officer, she said Thursday.
While the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office is appealing the Dec. 26 Superior Court reversal of Lynn’s landmark conviction, the monsignor must weekly report to the courts in Philadelphia, he must reside in the city and he must wear an electronic monitoring device.
On Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia put up the $25,000 needed to cover the required 10 percent of the $250,000 bail set Dec. 30 by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.
The same judge had presided over Lynn’s three-month trial in 2012 and had sentenced him to three to six years imprisonment after the monsignor was found guilty of endangering children for keeping a priest Lynn knew was a child molester in active ministry.
Now that the monsignor is out of prison, will he get a church assignment?
“He has been on administrative leave since March of 2011 and will remain so at this time as there is still a pending legal process,” said archdiocesan spokesman Ken Gavin. “It is far too early to comment with any authority about a possible return to active ministry given those circumstances.”
According to court records, the monsignor was scheduled for a 9 a.m. Monday hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. Bergstrom said the judge will go over the conditions of Lynn’s bail with him in what is likely to be a very short hearing.
That Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese posted Lynn’s bail outraged District Attorney Seth Williams, who learned of the payment New Year’s Eve.
Williams’ spokeswoman, Tasha Jamerson, said 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.”
Williams has vowed 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.
Bergstrom today called Williams’ remarks unprofessional and intends to file a Bar Association complaint against him.
“I think it’s just outrageous,” 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 that the monsignor never reported child-abuse allegations to authorities and that he put children at risk by allowing priests he knew to be molesters to continue in roles that would bring them in contact with minors. ••