Assistant District Attorney Anthony Pomeranz returned to the witness stand Thursday to read another volume of Monsignor William J. Lynn's wacky grand jury testimony into the record.
This has become a popular recurring skit at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse trial. In the last episode, the pudgy gumshoe from the archdiocese, as played by the prosecutor who looks like Woody Allen, was hot on the trail of Father Sylwester Wiejata.
Father Wiejata was the 27-year-old priest from Poland who had affairs with married women, and then molested one of his mistress' daughters, who was only 13. In Thursday's episode, Msgr. Lynn, as played by Pomeranz, discovered that Father Wiejata was more active than previously thought.
Father Wiejata is "acting out with many different women," Lynn wrote in a confidential June 22, 1999 memo to his file that was read to the grand jury when Lynn testified back in 2002.
After he had affairs in two different parishes with two married women, and then molested one of the women's daughters, Father Wiejata, at Lynn's request, checked into St. John Vianney, the archdiocese-owned and operated sex clinic for priests. While the priest was being evaluated by a team of therapists, Msgr. Lynn learned that Father Wiejata had been "seriously sexually abused" by his father.
It was time for the monsignor to write a memo to Cardinal Bevilcqua, so he could keep His Eminence abreast of Father Wiejata's exploits. "He's involved with many women," the monsignor wrote the cardinal. The priest has five known sex partners; there may be more, Lynn wrote.
And how were Father Wiejata's treatments going at the sex clinic? Well, not so hot. One day, Father Wiejata checked himself out of the clinic, and went to see one of his mistresses. Apparently, it beat talking about sex with his therapists.
Was that a problem, the grand jury prosecutor wanted to know.
"Oh sure," Monsignor Lynn, as played by Pomeranz, testified. " [Wiejata] was restricted to the grounds there."
Then on Dec. 10, 1999, Father Wiejata's treatment team told Msgr. Lynn about another setback for Father Wiejata. He strolled out of the sex clinic again, and stopped by a nearby restaurant. Then he made some sexually explicit remarks to a waitress, who phoned the clinic to lodge a complaint. She wasn't the only woman hit on by the priest; while at the restaurant, Father Wiejata flirted with another waitress.
The treatment team decided after 11 months of failed therapy, that it might be time to recommend a leave of absence for Father Wiejata. That would give the priest a chance to reflect on his calling, and another opportunity to "learn to live a celibate life," Lynn wrote in his secret files that were read in court Thursday.
The treatment team decided it would be "dangerous to have Father Wiejata representing himself as a priest," because "there was concerns" about whether he would be able to "remain chaste,"Lynn wrote in the files, as read to the jury by Pomeranz.
In August 200, Father Wiejata caused another stir when he ran off to the Trinity House Retreat in Larchmont, N.Y. Father Benedict Groeschel, who ran the retreat, called Msgr. Lynn to inform him that Father Wiejata needed "some discernment time with Father Groeschel," Lynn wrote in his files.
Father Groeschel told Msgr. Lynn that in his opinion, Father Wiejata needed some "spiritual support and counseling." The prosecutors, however, thought that Father Wiejata, who had confessed to Lynn that he had just molested a 13-year-old Pennsylvania girl, may have been more interested in fleeing the Commonwealth before anybody called the cops.
Was there any concern on your part that Father Wiejata might be on the lam, the grand jury prosecutor asked Msgr. Lynn. In Courtroom 304, the part of the grand jury prosecutor was played by Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington.
"I had taken all his priesthood faculties away," the monsignor told the grand jury. So he didn't seem too concerned about what further trouble Father Wiejata might cause in New York.
Did you give any consideration to calling the police, the grand jury prosecutor wanted to know.
"I didn't have a person telling me they were abused," Msgr. Lynn testified. The monsignor told the grand jury prosecutor that a woman who called him twice to talk about the priest's molestation of her daughter would not give him her real name.
Did you give any thought to contacting the three married women who said they had had affairs with Father Wiejata, the grand jury prosecutor asked.
"They were all adults and they could come forward themselves," Lynn told the grand jury.
While he was on spiritual retreat in New York, Father Wiejata called Msgr. Lynn to let him know he was OK.
And what did you say to him, the grand jury prosecutor asked.
"I encouraged him to return to in-patient therapy," Msgr. Lynn testified. The priest, he said, needed "time in prayer and discernment."
"No further questions at this time," the grand jury prosecutor said. And with that, the play-acting was done for another week. Assistant District Attorney Pomeranz left the witness stand, while the real Msgr. Lynn watched from the defense table.