Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Judge Worried About Monsignor Hiding Out At Vatican

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina wants Msgr. William J. Lynn to sign an extradition waiver before she'll consider letting him out of jail on house arrest.

The judge told lawyers in the case that she's worried about the monsignor fleeing the Commonwealth to hide out at the Vatican. If the monsignor wants to get out of jail, he'll have to sign the extradition waiver first. Then if he subsequently becomes a fugitive and is captured on Vatican soil, he cannot legally fight extradition back to the U.S.

Sounds like a plot for a TV potboiler, right? But the judge was serious, and so Lynn agreed to the request. The judge was crabbier than usual as she repeatedly lit into defense lawyer Jeff Lindy for mistakenly telling her last week that the monsignor does not have a passport. He does, although on Tuesday, the monsignor handed his passport over to the judge before he went back to jail.

The judge got things started at the hearing over house arrest by telling lawyers on both sides of the case that she wanted them to be civil.

You mean civil as opposed to criminal asked Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington. Blessington. Blessington, usually the most unhinged participant in these legal debates, did not seem to know what the judge was talking about.

The judge continued to hammer Lindy for saying that the monsignor did not have a passport on Friday after the verdict, just before the judge decided to have Msgr. Lynn taken into custody.

The judge slammed Lindy for being "zealous" in representing his client, but not getting his facts straight.

Lindy can get "huffy" as the judge has described it, but Blessington has so many more fouls. The prosecutor has repeatedly slammed the monsignor as a liar and the monsignor's defense lawyers as pampered, overpaid and whiny crybabies always trying to pull some last-minute maneuver to delay justice for their corrupt client. The best part for Blessington is that no matter how loud and obnoxious he gets, the judge never calls him on anything, a fact not lost on Lindy.

"It's remarkable that you're talking about me," Lindy said, glancing in the direction of Blessington. "I don't know why you're going off on me right now," Lindy said. But the judge was just getting started. 

"You stated it quite emphatically," the judge lectured Lindy about the passport that the monsignor allegedly did not have. "It turns out that you were in fact wrong," the judge continued. "Where would you get that understanding?"

Lindy said he might have gotten the wrong information from a relative or another lawyer in the case. He attempted to apologize, but the judge treated Lindy like a kid late for detention.

"If you're chewing gum, please get rid of it," she said.

"Yes, Your Honor," Lindy meekly responded.

The defense called Rita DeCarolis to the stand. She's a senior citizen who has volunteered her home to be the site of Msgr. Lynn's house arrest. DeCarolis said her son's late wife was Lynn's sister. DeCarolis testified that she lives alone. "I'm free," she said to help out the monsignor. She also was willing to let probation officers inspect her house, and call at all hours to check on the monsignor.

Lindy told the judge that his client was 61 years old, had no prior record, and plenty of ties to the community. Lynn was under investigation for ten years by a grand jury and never went anywhere, Lindy said. The monsignor made at least a dozen appearances before the grand jury. He showed up every day for court during the 13-week trial, usually early.

"He is absolutely no risk" to flee, Lindy said. The judge asked Lindy what he would do if despite his promises, his client fled the Commonwealth.

Lindy seemed perplexed. He suggested he could walk on his hands, eat the paper that his motion for house arrest was printed on, do somersaults, flips or whatever the judge wanted.

She glared at him. 

Lindy sat down, and it was Blessington's turn to pour some gasoline on the fire.

"I will be civil," Blessington promised. But within seconds, the prosecutor was talking about Lindy's "material misrepresentations" to the judge, like that passport that Lindy said the monsignor did not have.

Blessington then pulled out a Chicago Tribune story that talked about since 1985, 32 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse had absconded from the country. The Catholic Church, which paid for Lynn's high-priced lawyers, is a "very powerful" worldwide organization, Blessington said. If Lynn fled the country, he could put his collar back on and blend in as a priest anywhere around the world. 

Blessington was only a few minutes into his spiel where he promised to be civil when he briefly returned to the subject of Lynn's behavior on the witness stand. All he did was "lie, lie and lie," Blessington said of the monsignor.

"We're not here to discuss that, Mr. Blessington," the judge said. Wow, a mild reprimand from the judge. It only took 14 weeks.

Blessington skipped over the monsignor's behavior and talked about the "insulting" conduct of the defense team, and how they were now trying to "beg the court's indulgence" to get a convicted felon like their client out of jail.

Blessington asked the judge to consider the "mirror quality of the conduct" of the defense team, and how they reflected their corrupt client. He even took a shot at DeCarolis, calling her "the daughter-in-law of the son-in-law of a third cousin."

Blessington then returned to the subject of Lynn's conduct.

"He has nothing but utter contempt for the legal process," the prosecutor yelled. He doesn't deserve a reprieve from jail, especially considering it was "incomprehensible that he [Lynn] wouldn't get the maximum sentence." Lynn faces 3 1/2 to 7 years in jail after being convicted on the charge of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-class felony.

Blessington said he didn't want anybody to do any special favors for Lynn. "He dare not jump ahead of anybody," in the line of inmates seeking house arrest, Blessington said. 

The prosecutor said the hearing on a house arrest was a waste of time. Lynn's sentencing was only a month and a half way, on Aug. 13. The average wait for an inmate to be processed for house arrest is three or four weeks, the prosecutor said. So at the most, we're arguing about whether "a convicted felon" gets "three weeks of freedom," the prosecutor said. Why bother? He implored the judge not to "indulge these people after what they've done."

From the gist of what he was saying, the prosecutor was now lumping the defense lawyers in with their client as criminals.

Thomas Bergstrom, another defense lawyer, tried to get the conversation back on track. "I think he's entitled to bail," he told the judge. "Where's he gonna go?"

The judge announced a recess so she could read the Chicago Tribune story. She returned, saying that most of the priests mentioned in the story were fleeing to their native country, and skipping out while they were being investigated, or before their trials began. Lynn did not fit in any of those categories, his defense lawyers said.

The judge asked about bail. James Lynn, the monsignor's brother, stood and told the judge how he had put up $5,000, the 10 percent deposit required on $50,000 bail. The judge said that bail would be raised to $100,000, meaning Lynn's family has to cough up another $5,000.

Blessington wanted bail raised to $1 million, so the family's 10 percent deposit would be $100,000, but the judge said she thought that was excessive.

"There's no constitutional right to bail," Blessington said. Lynn also had changed circumstances. 

"Now he's had a taste of jail," Blessington said. "He knows what jail is like." Therefore, the chances are increased that if he's put on house arrest, the monsignor will saw through that ankle bracelet, and make a break for it, the prosecutor said.

The judge asked Lynn if he knew that if he did try to escape, she would "most likely impose a maximum sentence in absentia?" 

"Oh yes, Your Honor," Lynn replied.

And he would give up his rights to an appeal? Yes, he understood that as well.

Lindy tried to assure the judge that the monsignor was not a flight risk. Once again, the judge reminded Lindy that talk was cheap. What would you do if he flees, the judge said. Would you waive your fee?

"Absolutely," Lindy said. For this guy, sure, Lindy said. For some of my other clients, not so sure.

The judge gave the prosecutors a week to draft the extradition waiver. 

Lynn seemed to think the idea that he would be granted asylum at the Vatican was far-fetched. The monsignor was overheard incredulously telling his lawyers, "The Vatican? The archdiocese of Philadelphia won't even talk to me."

Judge Sarmina set a hearing date of 9 a.m. July 5 to consider whether she will grant house arrest. But in the meantime, she told both sides to get the paper work going, so when July 5th rolls around, "I will enter the order at that time," the judge said. 

Blessington asked the judge to stipulate that if she grants the house arrest, the only reason Lynn be allowed to leave is for medical emergencies. If his lawyers want to talk to him, they can drive over to see him.

But the judge did not commit to ordering the house arrest on July 5th. "I may or may not end up granting house arrest," she said. But she was definitely taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off, but would return for that July 5th hearing on Thursday.

"Everybody enjoy your holiday," she said cheerfully as she left the bench for the day. Lynn said nothing as he sat at the defense table, awaiting the sheriff's deputies who would escort him back to jail.

After the hearing was over, Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti said he hoped the judge would ultimately decide that Lynn "be held without bail."

Letting somebody out of jail, the prosecutor warned, is "a bell that can't be unrung." Especially if Lynn decides to flee.

Outside the Criminal Justice Center, Lindy was shaking his head about the judge's theory that the monsignor might hole up at the Vatican.

"That was ridiculous," he said. Asked about the prosecutor, Lindy said, "I think he's way off the reservation. I've never seen anything like the prosecutor in this case."


  1. How crazy is Blessington and for the judge to go along with his scenarios, she's a piece of work. They watched the DaVinci Code too many times.

  2. Wow! This particular installment had me laughing out loud! The caricatures that you paint of the Judge and the Prosecutor are hilarious!

    I hope they're reading your blog, Ralph...keep up the superior writing and reporting!

  3. Flee to the Vatican! how silly.. wait.. where is Vatican citizen Law?

  4. "Now he's had a taste of jail," Blessington said. "He knows what jail is like." Therefore, the chances are increased that if he's put on house arrest, the monsignor will saw through that ankle bracelet, and make a break for it, the prosecutor said."--

    He's right, priests are used to living in well provided comfy places and adored. Msgr Lynn needs to be kept in jail. He is a criminal and should not be given any special privileges. Does anyone remember where Cardinal Law is now living?

    The big reason that so many innocent children have been sexually abused by clerics and their crimes are covered up by priests, bishops, and cardinals, is because these men have been held with such high esteem. They are known to have the reputation that a holy priest can do no wrong.
    A strong message needs to be sent to all church leaders that they can no longer protect the child predators instead of protecting the kids, otherwise they will land in jail, just like any other human being.

    The brave victims' voices, who are now survivors, were heard, They deserve to not be afraid anymore and to see real justice. And yes, Lynn is a flight risk. It has happened many times.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,)

    1. Who's going to send the strong message to the Church leaders Judy, Daffy Duck? Thhhhhay I got a tellygram for u Church leaders. It's from the ACME company. It thesssssssss: Stop hurting kids won't you please or will have another demonst.....Justh wait one minute here. Another demonstration leading to what exactly?
      Calm yourself Daffy no one's been able to make rhyme nor reason around SNAP demos. I guess it's because it looks like SNAP demos are what victims want. When it's only meant to appear to be what victims want. According to SNAP who never asks victims what they want anyway.

    2. Here's the scam folks.
      "The brave victims' voices, who are now survivors, were heard. they deserve to not be afraid anymore and see real justice."
      A, Our voices are now survivors ???? (i know she meant the victims are now survivors but still) Now we're not victims but survivors.? Did the justice fairy (Barbra Blaine?) wave her magic wand and like caterpillers we morphed into butterflies (survivors)
      B, heard by who and how many discorporated voices were heard?
      C, Who the fuck's "afraid"? We are constantly being portrayed as Church mice cowering, by SNAP. I was afraid enough when I thought my perp would kill me.( I'll never be afraid of a pouty faced Church official, scoulding me.)
      D.The language is always exactly the same. Victims are always pitiable, frightened weak. When in fact our very existence has had more effect on the Catholic Church than anything other than the Protestant Reformation.

      I'm writing what i write here because SNAP, like the Wizard of Oz, want's us to ignore the Church behind SNAP's curtain.

  5. I remember the news stories after 2002 and after 2005 about accused priests getting out of Dodge and being given shelter in the headquarters of different religious orders in Rome. This is NOT out of Dan Brown. And apart from that, I think that Bill Lynn earned this jail time. This is not a routine white collar crime in which a defendant without a previous record embezzled or otherwise broke the law. This is a crime in which a child was grievously endangered by what I would characterize as the depraved indifference of a cleric who still seems to believe he was doing what God wanted him to do. And his history points to many other children who were also endangered in the same manner.

    1. Bill Lynn successfully evaded justice for his deeds of endangering children for years, prior to his conviction. He should have been brought to trial much sooner, but due to the delay tactics of the Roman Catholic Church, he wasn't. Now, it's time to pay the piper! Lynn has shown absolutely no remorse, and I hope that this fact isn't lost on the judge, when it comes time for her to sentence Lynn. From another article which I read today, there is a possibility that Lynn will also need to stand trial in a civil lawsuit. In that event, given that Lynn will have a taste of jail by then, I would bet a box of chocolate covered doughnuts that Lynn will "Spill the Beans" on other criminal activity within the Archdiocese. He's not going to want to stay in jail any longer than he needs to!

  6. In my opinion Lynn is a very high flight risk, particularly in the direction of the Vatican, which I don't believe for a moment would extradite him back to the USA if Lynn ever reached their sacred 110 square acres. After WWII the Vatican was famous for "The Ratline," also known by the CIA as "Operation Odessa!" The Vatican was directly responsible for spiriting Nazi and Fascist leaders like Ante Pavelic, the Butcher of Yugoslavia, out of Europe and into South America. The Ratline was well-greased with Nazi Gold. If the Vatican could get the biggest criminals out of Europe in WWII, getting Lynn out of the USA would be a piece of cake, ankle-bracelet and all! I would like to quote from Wikipedia on the Raline: "[Bishop] Hudal used this position to aid the escape of wanted Nazi war criminals, including Franz Stangl, commanding officer of Treblinka, Gustav Wagner, commanding officer of Sobibor, Alois Brunner, responsible for the Drancy internment camp near Paris and in charge of deportations in Slovakia to German concentration camps, and Adolf Eichmann[10] If the Vatican could get the biggest Nazi criminals out of Europe after WWII, getting Lynn out of the USA would be a piece of cake, ankle-bracelet and all!

  7. After Lynn serves his time and gets out of jail, then what? Will he be re-instated as a priest in good standing and given a parish in the Archdiocese of Philly? Will his salary be paid while he is in prison, by the good people of Philly, who paid millions of dollars for his defense? In the bishops' "Zero Tolerance Policy," they thoughtfully neglected to mention if they would also have a "Zero Tolerance Policy" for those who covered up for Pedophile Priests. Maybe these are questions, which should be posed to Archbishop Chaput?

  8. Ralph Cipriano wrote: "The prosecutor has repeatedly slammed ... the monsignor's defense lawyers as pampered, overpaid and whiny crybabies always trying to pull some last-minute maneuver to delay justice for their corrupt client."

    That describes church attorneys in every city in the USA.

    Okay, I feel a need to say this.

    The prosecutors indicted and tried the wrong person. Lynn is just one small cog in a huge wheel, and it bothers me that because of this trial, other prosecutors won't go after the real criminals: the bishops who crafted and enforced the policy of covering up these crimes.

    I see Lynn as a scapegoat, whose conviction on one count will prevent real justice from ever happening. Of course, I'm not in Philadelphia and due to my job, can't read all the coverage of the trial.

    But as one of the pedophile priest victims who experienced last minute tricks by Chicago Archdiocese defense (i.e., corporate) lawyers in my own case, I feel really defeated from what I've been able to read about this trial. I don't see this as a great victory for survivors, or a precedent that will lead to more trials like this in other cities. I think this trial will discourage other prosecutors from filing charges.

    The bishops got away with it again.

    1. Kay: This is one time that I'm going to disagree with you. I think this is a big victory in so far that at least someone, close to the Hierarchy got indicted, tried and convicted of endangering children. I would have been a lot happier if the "Conspiracy" charges had stuck, but I think that the next time it needs to be defined, beforehand, differently, so the jury understands exactly what it means. I went to a Dutch website in Belgium today, and it had posted an article on the implications of Lynn's conviction for the people of Europe!!!!!!!! Yes! They are encouraged, as are the Canadians, that it will be possible in the future to bring charges against those who covered for Pedophile Priests and shuffled them from parish to parish! It was a small victory, but never-the-less, it was still a victory against Goliath! I encourage you, "Only Believe. With God ALL Things Are Possible!"

  9. I woke up at 5 this morn and could not stop thinking about this and had to share this…….

    I know for fact that it was Bill Brennan who mentioned to the Judge that Msgr did not have a passport after Blessington was done screaming about the Vatican. NOT Jeff Lindy. This should be very easy to confirm if we request a copy of the court transcript from the argument re: his bail. Most of the press was locked out during this argument so they would not have heard these arguments and the comment about Msgr not having a passport. However, Ralph you were there at that time as I lent you my pen.

    Important reasons for sharing-
    1- It shows that Sarmina & Blessington were wrong and misspoke and need accurate facts.
    2- That Jeff Lindy was not lying but could have been so upset and in his own head that he doesn’t realize that it was Brennan who stated Msgr didn’t have a passport. Therefore, Lindy is not the liar.
    3- You do not want Blessington to put it in his sentencing memo that Lindy lied – lie lie lie. When in fact it was Brennan who stated this.
    4- Brennan who didn’t represent Msgr but who spoke first on his behalf – misspoke re: the passport and therefore it was not a lie. (However, I believe Bill Brennan did not have accurate info and was not lying and had Msgr’s interest at heart.)

    I could not just let this go, I do not want to see Blessington blast defense counsel as further liars. His attacks (the few I sat thru) were hard to accept and digest. I want the best for Msgr and quite frankly am very tired of Blessington’s horrible scary outbursts and his mouth.

    Please someone out there request the court transcript for Friday, June 22nd. Allow Sarmina and Blessington to apologize in front of the Court to Jeff Lindy.

  10. is this legal charade really necessary.had the legal system done their duty decades ago we would not be witnessing the monumental acts of depravity and deceit.what is so difficult about justice that it needs to be drawn out where people suffer and are abused.maximum sentence in jail.can you grasp being a child abused by a cleric ,traumatized to the point of a hospital stay.only to have the same deviant walk in as a chaplain.

  11. Dear Mr. Cipriano,

    My name is Joe Fioravanti. I was with the U.S. Attorney's Office years ago and was the First Assistant for a short period of time. You may remember my name as the prosecutor of the Philadelphia version of the Abscam case. It is my claim to fame for the old people who remember it.

    I have never responded to a blog before, but I couldn't resist responding to this one. I know Tom Bergstrom quite well from the days when we served together in the U.S. Attorney's Office. I actually went to the courtroom and watched the opening statements and the closing speeches. While there, through Tom Bergstrom, I met Monsignor Lynn.

    Having heard the closing speeches, including the disjointed, bizarre speech of the prosecutor, I came to the conclusion that Lynn could not possibly be guilty of this offense. I understand that he is being made to answer for the Catholic church at a time when the Catholic church is in understandable disfavor. But it doesn't mean that he should be convicted for the alleged negligent omissions which the statute under which he was charged does not punish. If he is to remain in prison pending a successful appeal of this nuanced, but clear, legal issue, what will the prosecutor and the trial court say to him after he has served 18 months or more awaiting the appellate outcome?

    Lynn's mistreatment at the hands of the prosecutor and the court is troubling. Not only do I feel very sorry for Monsignor Lynn, with all that he has gone through, but I grieve for the death of one's right to a fair trial.

    I remember, in the early days of joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1973, one of the first things we were taught was that the prosecution always wins, no matter what the verdict, as justice is done. That has not occurred in this case. Perhaps the Office of the District Attorney, and its borrowed prosecutor from the Attorney General's Office, need to read the Berger case, in which the Supreme Court embodied the concept of prosecutorial fairness and judicial restraint of prosecutorial misconduct.

    1. You have completely lost your way.

      Lynn absolutely, positively hid known child rapists since 1994. He is in jail. That is justice. All of his co-conspirators and child rapists should also be in jail, but they aren't due to poorly written laws.

      Now let's talk about what you've learned in life:

      - if there is a way to get away with a crime because laws were poorly written, use it to help the criminals
      - don't mistreat the pedophile protector (although you make no mention of the mistreatment of children that were anally raped by the priests he protected)
      - it is not justice when a proven protector of child rapists goes to jail, despite $11 million in legal fees which tried to expose flaws in the laws

      Hopefully, you ar eout of the system, and future generations can focus on justice instead of what you focused your life on.

    2. Thanks. I was trying to figure out why Blessington was showing up on the AG's roles and not on the DA's roles.

      I'm old enough to remember abscam

    3. Wow! That was pwerful, and written by someone who truly understands the law! Thank you for your generousity of spirit for commenting on Ralph's blog. And thank you again, to Ralph, for creating, updating and maintainling the blog - the best and only source of information regarding the Trial.

    4. Mr. Neil Allen/Patrick O'Malley...why not offer something else other than the words child rape over and over...you mislead in all of your comments with rudeness and distorted statistics. You are not from Philadelphia, you know little about the law and obviously have no keen eye into what occurred at this trial. We have a pride here in our city, we respect those who have contributed to our society. Why not let people give their expert take on the trial on this informative forum.

    5. Child rape is what it was Josie. There's no getting around that.

    6. Genuine rape of any human being, and especially of a child, is reprehensible and always and everywhere to be addressed robustly by law enforcement and prosecutors.

      But rape is not at issue in the Charges against these Defendants. And, for that matter, it is numerically one of the least-alleged crimes formally reported against priests. And while there remains the Correct assertion of ‘under-reporting’, that purported reality has never been established but merely presumed through comparison of formally-reported allegations and ‘surveys’ (which as stand-alone evidentiary sources enjoy almost zero actual scientific credibility).

      Presently, we must now also deal with the (deliberately?) confusing reality that the definition of ‘rape’ is being expanded to include actions that – repugnant and perhaps criminal in themselves – do not correspond to any commonly-understood definition of actual rape. Thus the recently-successful effort to have almost all sex-assaults reported by police agencies to the FBI under the Uniform Reporting mandate classified as ‘rape’.

      This slyly has not reached the point of having legislatures actually re-define the formal elements of rape for prosecution purposes, but for media purposes the term ‘rape’ now has to be assessed carefully by the public. (In the far more malleable (and vulnerable) military justice system, where Congress can change matters almost by fiat, the actual re-jiggering of the criminal elements has now proceeded much further.)

      Once again, I am under the strong impression that many people are conflating the Charges in this particular case with their concerns (to put it politely) about ‘rape’ among clerics generally.

      Which does nothing to keep matters clear, and – I would say – has contributed to the angry befuddlement of many who vigorously supported this case under the inaccurate assumption that these Defendants were merely clear-cut examples of the ‘rape’ and ‘culture of rape’ that they (want to) believe is rife in the Church.

  12. Geez, the guy had the balls to sign his name. I also think he raises some good points. Look, the concept of a fair trial is a big deal for everybody, and I've written a lot about the problems I've seen with this case, and this judge. I'm frankly disturbed by what I've seen so far in this case, and you all should know I'm no fan of the archdiocese. Hey Joe, great stuff!

  13. I concur with Mr. Cipriano and with Attorney Fioravanti.

    And I strongly second Attorney Fioravanti’s concern over fair-trials and due-process. If the ultimate purpose of a trial is to secure the best legally achievable truth and justice, then the prosecutor succeeds no matter what the outcome. And the People are well served.

    In the past 30 or so years it is precisely that fundamental principle and that overriding objective that have been lost. The prosecutor (and thus the Sovereign coercive/police authority) have become seen as avengers, rather than as truth-seekers according to the first-principles of Law.

    Thus, prosecutors must now avenge, and – as is so often said in so many areas of activity these days – ‘by any means necessary’.

    Which in this case resulted in what has to be seen as a weirdly cobbled-together case (which Mr. Cipriano has dissected acutely in other reports on this site) with flaws so extraordinary as the ex-post-facto vulnerability (Lynn is charged under a revision of the applicable statute that was not enacted until after the actions for which he was charged) and grandstanding behaviors so egregious.

    All of which tickles the fancy of persons who want to see Law ‘weaponized’ in order to achieve their preferred outcomes and objectives, but profoundly corrodes (and, I would say, corrupts) all of the practitioners involved in it. The Law is deliberate and careful for a very good reason: so that the Sovereign authority is not misapplied and its authority and even legitimacy ultimately undermined.

    Attorney Blessington was seconded from the AG’s Office to oversee an anti-corruption unit in a city with a “culture of corruption”, as the DA said last June (2011). It would be interesting to know what other investigations and trials have been developed under Attorney Blessington’s aegis.

    And while I originally envisioned him as being a rather young attorney and perhaps influenced by an in-your-face approach to ‘perps’ that they might be teaching in law school these days (thus the rather raucous behavior in the courtroom), he was admitted to the Bar almost 30 years ago, in 1983 – so youthful eagerness and inexperience aren’t the source of the histrionics.

  14. How can you hide a man in a dress?...... Send him to the Vatican.

  15. All remember Cardinal Law of Boston.
    he ended up with a cushy rent free apt in the Vatican.
    He was not a felon, but they sure got him out of Boston fast enough.


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