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Jailed Catholic Priest Catches a Break From Pennsylvania Court

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Posted on Dec 26, 2013
AP/Matt Rourke

Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia in 2012.

On Thursday, a trio of Superior Court judges in Pennsylvania ordered the release of Monsignor William Lynn from the state prison where he has been serving time for his role in dealing with sex abuse claims against fellow Catholic clergy members.

Lynn, 62, was 18 months into a jail sentence originally set to span three to six years when the ruling reversed his conviction, which was connected not to his own sexual misconduct but that of accused clergymen over whom he had jurisdiction, as The Associated Press reported:

Prosecutors had argued at trial that Lynn reassigned predators to new parishes in Philadelphia while he was the archdiocese’s secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004.

Lynn’s conviction stems from the case of one priest, Edward Avery, found to have abused a child in 1998 after such a transfer.

Lynn’s attorneys have long contended the state’s child-endangerment law at the time applied only to parents and caregivers, not supervisors like Lynn. Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina rejected their argument and allowed the case to move forward, but the Superior Court panel reversed her decision.

This decision may not represent the final word on Lynn’s case, however, as prosecutors are mulling their options and may appeal.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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