Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fire-Breathing Prosecutor Assails Lynn As Liar; Monsignor's Supporters Break Out Rosary Beads

At the Catholic sex abuse trial, it was good day to feel like throwing up.

On the witness stand Thursday, an amiable and smiling Monsignor William J. Lynn tried to defend the indefensible, by explaining away the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's criminal conduct of the past fifty years. It's hard to justify how the church could repeatedly offer up its own innocent children as a regular sacrifice to the unbridled lusts of rampaging predator priests, but Lynn gave it a try, with predictable results.

But that wasn't the only sickening sight in Courtroom 304. Over at the prosecution table, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington was a study in fire-breathing indignation, as he pummeled the hapless monsignor for more than four hours, without showing any mercy, or common sense.

Who would want to see Mike Tyson in his prime whaling away on the Pillsbury doughboy? No wonder jurors often looked away as the bloodsport went on unabated, without anyone in Lynn's corner tossing in the towel, or the judge calling the bout.

Blessington could have dissected Lynn on the facts, but instead he chose to repeatedly insult and demean a man in a priest's collar who wasn't fighting back. It seemed like the ideal way to create sympathy for Lynn among jurors. It may be the only way the defense has left to possibly win the case.

Meanwhile, in the courtroom, there was the odd spectacle of at least a dozen of Lynn's parishioners from St. Joseph's in Downingtown who showed up to support their pastor by watching and praying and clutching rosary beads.

So there was a Mass and a Wrestlemania match going on simultaneously in Court 3004, but it was one of those matches that featured a pumped-up superstar pounding away on a scrawny stiff. Not for the faint-hearted.

After nine weeks of trial, no new facts came out. Instead, both sides cited facts already in evidence ad nauseum as justification for their unreasonable positions, without shedding any new light on any subject.

Monsignor Lynn kept saying he did the best he could to protect children under the circumstances, which just doesn't wash. Lynn tried to explain how, during a horrific epidemic of rape and molestation of children, his office never called the police, never went looking for other victims -- even when they were given the names of other victims -- and didn't tell the truth to parishioners, victims and parents, as abusers were transferred from parish to parish, so that they could destroy more innocent lives.

He also tried to claim that the church was more interested in protecting children, rather than keeping predator priests out of jail and the civil courts, and the old archdiocese free from scandal, all of which seems self-evident at this point.

As for the prosecutor, his disdain for the monsignor was spread thicker than chunky peanut butter on a saltine cracker. On both days of his cross-examination, Blessington didn't even say hello to the monsignor, he didn't stand to address him, he just fired away from a seated position at the prosecution table.

On Thursday, Blessington repeatedly called Lynn a liar. In one hour, Blessington called Lynn a liar, or charged him with lying, 14 times, or once every 4 minutes. He usually made these charges while holding his chin in hand, his tone reeking of disgust. And when he got through pointing out all the lies in Lynn's grand jury testimony, Blessington would disdainfully toss another bound volume on a table behind him, as if he was putting out the trash.

"You understand, you can't change the words on the documents," Blessington shouted at Lynn. "You have to admit your lies."

Other Blessington shots at the monsignor:

-- "Clarification, truth lies, It really doesn't matter, does it?"

-- "We can save some time if you admit you lied."

-- "You never lied to anybody, did you?"

-- "More lies!"

-- "You understand you're being caught in lies upon lies?"

-- "You're making it up as you're going along, aren't you?"

Then there were exchanges like this:

Blessington: "You did nothing."

Lynn: "I did my best."

Blessington: "By your standards, your best is nothing."


Blessington: "You think this is funny?"

Lynn [smiling]: "No, I don't know how you want me to answer."

Blessington: "How bout truthfully?"

At one point, Blessington accused Lynn of something new, namely hiding the list he had compiled of 35 abuser priests in a locked safe in a file room in Lynn's old office on the 10th floor of archdiocese headquarters.

"Absolutely not," the monsignor said.

Whose safe was it, Blessington wanted to know.

"I have no idea," the monsignor said.

"You expect this jury to believe this testimony?"

At another point, when Blessington again accused Lynn of lying, the monsignor said, "No, you're twisting the words I said, putting your motives behind them."

"You understand that your motives are on trial here?" Blessington shot back.

"I do," the monsignor said.

Meanwhile, the monsignor was resigned to lines like, "I did not lie," and, "It fell through the cracks." He was talking about a psychiatric evaluation that was supposed to be scheduled for Father Stanley Gana, one of the archdiocese's most notorious rapists.

"I'm not happy that it fell through the cracks," the monsignor said. "I'm sorry it fell through the cracks."

The parishioners from St. Joseph's, however,  said the monsignor was a good man.

"We believe in him,"Alfreda "Fritz" DiOttavio said of her pastor. "We heard about the trial, and we all wanted to go."

"He [Lynn] was always there for me," she said. When she was sick, and her husband was dying, the monsignor came calling to offer prayer and comfort.

As for the prosecutor, DiOttavio was not impressed.

"I don't like that man," she said.


  1. "But that wasn't the only sickening sight in Courtroom 304. Over at the prosecution table, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington was a study in fire-breathing indignation, as he pummeled the hapless monsignor for more than four hours, without showing any mercy, or common sense."

    Great post. Yep. Terrible misstep. It is difficult to do, but keeping your own inner demons in check is the key to discrediting a despicable person. When I lecture other lawyers, I always say, "nobody likes rats, but if you watched a kid tie a string to a rat, and torture it for hours, you would start rooting for the rat." Same principle holds. He would have been much more effective if he was polite, called him Monsignor, killed the sarcasm, and just quietly put the 30 or 40 big omissions on the courtroom reader or screen and simply had him agree that he didn't call the cops, warn the pastor, or tell the parishioners. Show any inconsistent testimony from the grand jury. The last question is unlike Picard and the nun, you never stuck your neck our for the kids. You never let your own righteous indignation rise above the jury. You never call a witness a liar--even in argument. Instead, "perhaps there is some explanation why Monsignor Lynn forgot to . . . . . , but we didn't hear it on the witness stand."

    But that is endemic for ADAs. I watched a former ADA cross examine an elderly woman personal injury plaintiff with real injuries like a crack whore. In a typical case, everybody who testifies is a POS. They believe that they are on a mission from God, and they lack the maturity or self awareness to realize that ordinary jurors see something different.

    It's a shame. I don't like to second guess other lawyers, but if you look at my post yesterday, you will see that I said that a hyper aggressive approach was a mistake.

  2. I agree with your analysis Kopride. I also understand how this particular DA may have had one too many of his own personal buttons punched during the investigation leading up to and during this trial. I can also see where he might have thought it would be a tactical mistake to show Msgr Lynn any compassion because it might have led the jury to hang it all on Bevilaqua rather than Lynn.

    The best approach would have been exactly what you point out and what I hope Blessington emphasizes in his closing arguments. The nun and her take on this whole thing is the simple crux of the matter. Lynn could have quit at any time, he could have gone to police at any time, he could have called parents at any time, he could have done any number of things differently, and he didn't.

  3. NEVER CALLED THE POLICE, that pretty much says it.

    I'm glad the gloves were off. I think it has to be done that way to snap anyone and everyone of the jurors who have glazed over simply as a defensive mechanism to insulate themselves from the day after day revelations of abuse and blindeye responses.

    Today, Blessington spoke for me, finally I had a voice in the room. Most survivors never get a chance to confront their abusers and/or the abusers' enablers, which Lynn and the bishops and cardinals certainly are.

    Was it difficult for jurors, I guess, but perhaps they felt this way also, after everything they heard. But if I were a juror, I would have wanted to know all the same things, and I'd be emotional about it also. It was the defenses decision to put Lynn on the stand, agree it was their best long shot. Will it be good enough?

    Nothing wrong with some passion. Lynn had it coming.

    1. Lynn has much worse thatn that coming when he gets to prison. He'll be begging for them to be as nice as Blessington.

  4. I disagree. If I were on the jury, I would be so disgusted at the pedophile protector that I would appreciate him getting abused, which is just a tiny fraction of the abuse that happened to the children that were abused by his criminals.

    When Lynn goes to jail, it will be comforting to know that the other prisoners will think about the children, and will treat Lynn like they treat pedophiles.

  5. "I disagree. If I were on the jury, I would be so disgusted at the pedophile protector that I would appreciate him getting abused, which is just a tiny fraction of the abuse that happened to the children that were abused by his criminals."

    That's for sentencing. Go nuts at sentencing, call him every name in the book. . . But not at trial. This is not a forum for Blessington to show the jury how skilled he is or to work out his own demons or disgust. His job is to represent law order and accountability; and losing your cool doesn't advance that cause. in that jury box, there are certain to be jurors who are on the fence. Blessington could probably piss on the floor and jurors with your mindset would still convict Lynn. He has to win over the undecided, and that act won't help him. You can't say follow your oath as jurors and disregard your personal biases and prejudices after you've broken your oath as prosecutor and displayed your personal biases and prejudices. People don't like to watch sadistic behavior. It is a colossal mistake and probably the reason Bergstrom gambled and put him on the stand. It was a poker match, and Bergstrom played the player rather than the cards. He knew Blessington couldn't resist. Lynn was, in the words of Col. Kurtz and according to the defense theory, not a monster, just "an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill. "And Blessington showed Lynn to be just that, an ineffectual weakling who got pounded for 4 hours by a hyper aggressive lawyer. He basically showed that Lynn was not a calculating executive; rather he was a toady who would accept a berating without objection.

    Another example. In Pretty Woman, the leading lady is a gutter streetwalker--not an escort or high priced lady of the evening, but a cheap whore. When people in the movie treat her like the $10 whore she is, in the snooty salon, the hotel, or Jason Alexander's lawyer character, the sympathy is with the whore. Lynn is a weak willed sad sack who got pushed around by more skilled and brighter people all his life. That's why he was put in that position. . . because the higher ups knew that he would never have the balls to look at Bevilacqua and say, 'I'm calling the cops, no matter what you say, and if you fire me, I'll walk down to the DA and the press and tell them that there are 35 of these perverts that I am being asked to protect." And Blessington played right into that narrative. Lynn isn't a criminal, just a sad excuse for a human being who got pushed around by the powerful. And if there is somebody on that jury that looked the other way because he was weak or afraid to stand up, that juror has probably just gone for an acquittal.

  6. Please, all of your converations take away from the victims. What can we do to support the folks
    supporting the Prosecution's case?

  7. OK. My earlier post didn't read right...I meant comprehensively. So, Ralph and the DA's team what will happen next for the folks who put their lives on the line to showcase horrible, age-old abuse in the eyes of their predators? And, how can we help?

    1. Andi, How do you know what takes "away from the victims"? Are you a victim?I am. Conversations never hurt as long as they're not the same old "Snap's great" from SNAP supporters or SNAP's working to attack the Church from the Church supporters. Those two poles remind me of the whirlpool and the monster in the Odyssey. Those arguments are brought to you by the best paid PR firms in the country. When the truth is something else completely. And Judy Jones are you being paid for your work for SNAP? Why the complete dedication? Why, when 2 survivors post about our experiences with SNAP, are we ignored by "supporters" who are supposed to be supporting us?
      Which came first Judy, the victims or SNAP?

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  8. These past weeks have been a roller coaster for many. Grateful that some truths are seeing the light of day but maddening when we know of so many other truths that will never be exposed. It will be devastating if Lynn does not go to jail. It will be disturbing if he does and not others as well. The trial is soon over. It is never over for those who live the fallout of the lies and the continued insult of denial.

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  10. Thank you, Ralph, for saying we were offered up as sacrifices to sick priests, as that is how I feel it happened and I've worded it that way a few times at City of Angels Blog ( I think priests were allowed to rape children under the misguided notion that sex on a child is not breaking a celibacy vow.

    1. Kay: I honestly believe that those who molest, rape and sodomize kids have no moral compass and they are unconcerned about "breaking celibacy vows!" I do believe, however, that bishops who coverup for Pedophile Priests use the excuse that raping a child isn't the same as "breaking a celibacy vow!" Why? Because bishops PROVE that they have no moral compass, before the Vatican anoints them to be Her representatives or " Vatican-Puppets on Earth!" I had the unfortunate experience of having an "X-Husband," who was a former seminarian. He said that spirituality takes a back-seat to Canon Law and to learning how to run the Church as a business! At the time, I didn't believe him. Now, even my "X" has more credibility than the Church, and believe me, that's saying a lot! ; )

  11. From reading coverage online, it looks like news coverage has gone up with a lot of attention to the Monsignor's testifying. How is local news media covering this trial? Has it changed?

  12. The best way to lose this case is exactly what the prosecutor is doing. Let the facts stand for themselves name calling only makes the prosecutor look mean. This is a trial. Fairness counts at trials. No one wants to appear to railroad a defendant. Except it seems this pros.

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    2. Jim, I agree with you, even though Blessington said many of the things that most of us would have liked to say, had we been in Blessington's shoes. It was probably not one of his best ideas to start name calling at this point and to beat up Lynn on the stand. I hope that members of the jury weren't offended by the way in which he treated Lynn. It might have been a bad memory to leave the jurors with at the end of the trial. In any event, I wonder if beating up Lynn on the stand could be an excuse for an Appeal, if Lynn is found guilty as charged? I will be so disappointed if Lynn gets off "Scot Free!" We all need to pray that justice will be done! I hope that the jury will remember the Survivors, who testified, and their pain!

  13. Hey Kay, since your here, Why don't we tell these people about the fraud that is the victims "movement"? The fraud called SNAP.

    1. Hey, Jim, I'm not in SNAP but I know a lot about it. I advocate for brutalized children. Does that automatically make me a fraud in your eyes too? Is your contempt for children across the board, or do you only despise the advocates who are most successful in getting predators removed? Go ahead and take a minute if you need it to ask the Catholic League what your answer should be.

    2. Jim, I know what you are talking about, I've tried to describe it at but people can't understand it from one or two sentences in a comment...

      For skeptics, just remember who the bad guys are here and what extent of control they can have over victims, what they are powerful enough to pull off. And then accept that anything is possible when a criminal organization has as much resources as the Catholic bishops.

      The church uses more than the courts in its artillery to beat down the victims. Those of us who have experienced it personally also know that the way it was set up, as soon as you try to point it out, you look like you are attacking the victims.

      I've written all I want to write about it at CofA2, I don't want to repeat myself, it's very defeating, just one more lousy thing the church did to the victims, and it's really hard to explain...

      I'm at work, can't write anymore now.

    3. Or rather, as soon as you try to point it out, someone will jump in and accuse you of attacking victims... it's one more layer of crap we get to experience as pedophile priest victims.

      'nuff said...

    4. Sarah, I am a victim. Are you? I have worked with SNAP ( actually, worked for SNAP, here in Los Angeles . No one works "with" SNAP that would imply equality. Something that never happens with SNAP) since 2002 here. I handcuffed my self to Roger Mahoney's throne in L.A. and for that served 300 hours of community service.
      How dare you assume I see real victims advocates as a fraud simply because I know SNAP to be one? Since unlike Kay and I you choose not to sign your real name here,how dare you assume I am connected to the girly Billy Donahue et all? Kay and I are both victims. I think we know when we've been had. Don't you?
      I think the fact that you attack me with out knowing who I am; and what I do in this nebulous (because it's "led' by SNAP) victims movement. You may want to think again. Or more accurately just think period. Google Victims of for out documentation, analysis; and experience that proves SNAP a FRAUD.

  14. Also. Please tell me why out of millions of dollars spent on SNAP. SNAP spent only $600, six hundred dollars in 23 years for direct services to VICTIMS??????
    Why don't you shut up about SNAP untill you've lived with them? Like we victims have had to do.
    P.S. Davey Pierre; the great poofter Billy Donahue and SNAP are flip sides of the same Catholic coin. And as long as you pretend to be on one fake side or the other so are you.

  15. FYI, I've been an atheist since I was 20, That was the only "gift" I received for my rape. And a Marxist as well. Any one who knows me knows that about me. So try and stick me with the mumbo jumbos, you can't.
    But why the vitriol, Sarah? Rather a quick leap to anger on your part.

  16. What is really key here is the larger picture in my opinion. We regaled bernard law in boston until he felt the heat grabbed his gucci's and leaped across the pond to the non extradition having papal state. Just in the nick of time? well this case will tell.
    As a survivor of the criminal geoghan and those after him visiting me with mind numbing death threats extracts me from the real world to this day. I reckon little will change unless guys like Monsignor William Lynn do hard time


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