Monsignor William Lynn, a Roman Catholic official who was found guilty last month of endangering a child, was sentenced to a three to six year prison term on Tuesday. Lynn is the first Catholic official in the U.S. to be convicted of covering up sex crimes committed by priests. His lawyers had asked for leniency, arguing sending Lynn to jail would serve no purpose. Prosecutors asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence because he gave known predators access to children. Lynn’s lawyers have said they will appeal the conviction.
Monsignor Lynn served as secretary for clergy for the 1.5 million-member archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, recommending priest assignments and investigating abuse complaints. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that he had shielded predatory priests, sometimes transferring them to unwary new parishes, and lied to the public to avoid bad publicity and lawsuits.
The trial and conviction of Monsignor Lynn, church experts say, has already sent a strong warning against lax oversight of sexual abuses to bishops and other senior Catholic officials around the country.
“I think this is going to send a very strong signal to every bishop and everybody who worked for a bishop that if they don’t do the right thing they may go to jail,” said Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University and a Jesuit priest. “They can’t just say the bishop made me do it, that’s not going to be an excuse that holds up in court.”
In the trial, Monsignor Lynn’s lawyers argued that he had tried to protect children, but that his powers were limited and that he had followed the instructions of the Cardinal at the time, Anthony J. Bevilacqua. But prosecutors argued that Monsignor Lynn played a central role in deciding how to handle complaints against priests and that “following orders” was no defense.
Source: New York Times