Monday, June 25, 2012

Jury Didn't Buy Prosecution's Grand Conspiracy Theory

Lost in all the hoopla over the "historic" conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn was the jury's repudiation of the prosecution's central allegation in the priest abuse case: that Lynn had somehow conspired with predator priests to keep them in ministry, so they could abuse new victims.

The prosecution's conspiracy theory was basically that the monsignor got up every morning and said, hey, what can I do today to keep our bad boys in collars, so they can continue to rape, pillage and molest more innocent children.

On Monday, the jury foreman in the case went on Fox 29 and said that nobody on the jury bought the prosecutors' conspiracy theory that sounded far-fetched when the trial began back in March, and seems even more absurd now that the three-month trial is over, and no evidence was ever presented to back it up.

It would be comical, except that the Commonwealth just spent a ton of money and eight weeks of trial time trying to convince the jury that Bill Lynn the quintessential company man was the alleged mastermind down at the archdiocese of a secret plot to sexually abuse children.

The jury found Lynn not guilty of conspiring with Father Edward V. Avery, or anyone else, to endanger the welfare of children.

On Monday morning, jury foreman Isa Logan went on Fox 29's Good Day and told anchors Mike Jerrick and Karen Hepp that he didn't believe the prosecution's conspiracy theory, and neither did anyone else on the jury.

"It wasn't  about him [Lynn] passing them [abuser priests] on from parish to parish," Logan explained to the two TV anchors. Instead, the jury concentrated on Lynn's supervisory role, Logan said. "It was more on what are your actions knowing about a father [priest], what do you do after the fact when you find out that this person could be a potential problem or is a problem."

"None of us understood or believed that he [Lynn] had the understanding that here's a predator priest, I'll help him get to another parish so he can continue to enjoy what he likes to do," Logan stated. "None of us believed that."

"It's a ludicrous notion," agreed Jeff Lindy, one of Msgr. Lynn's defense lawyers. Lindy said the conviction is based on an old Pennsylvania child endangerment law that didn't really apply to Lynn. The defense lawyer hopes the conviction is thrown out on appeal. 

"It's clearly a complete repudiation of any claim that Msgr. Lynn conspired with anyone," agreed Alan J. Tauber, another defense lawyer who's also pinning his hopes on an appeal. "It's one of the clearest cases for reversal that I've ever seen based on the application of the law," Tauber said.

Lawyers in the case have been free to talk since Judge M. Teresa Sarmina lifted her gag order last Friday, when the verdict was announced. But getting lawyers to talk on the other side of the case has been difficult. Tasha Jamerson, a spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams, could not be reached for the past two days.

The conspiracy case against Lynn was so weak that even pro-prosecution Judge Sarmina tossed two conspiracy counts to endanger the welfare of children that allegedly linked Lynn to the other defendant in the case, Father James J. Brennan. Brennan's case ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked on two counts against him, attempted rape, and endangering the welfare of children.

To anyone who sat through the entire trial, the real conspiracy was the elephant in the courtroom: the archdiocese's successful top-down campaign to keep pervert priests out of jail, and the sins of Mother Church out of the media, and the civil courts. It was so obvious only a table full of prosecutors could miss it.

While defense lawyers talked about an appeal, Lynn remained an inmate of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, known as CFCF, at 7901 State Road in Northeast Philadelphia. A hearing on whether to spring Lynn from jail and keep him under house arrest until his Aug. 13 sentencing was scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Courtroom 304.

Whether Pennsylvania's old child endangerment law applies to Lynn may be the key issue if the case is appealed. The interesting thing about the defense theory that the old child endangerment law didn't apply to Lynn is that at one time, the people who agreed with that theory included former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and a 2005 grand jury that investigated sex abuse in the archdiocese.

A January 12, 2012 defense motion for relief to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that fell on deaf ears outlines the appeal case. The applicable state law known as EWOC [endangering the welfare of a child] said: "A parent, guardian, or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

Here's what the 2005 grand jury report said about whether that law applied to Lynn or any other member of the archdiocese hierarchy: "As defined under the law ... the offense of endangering welfare of children is too narrow to support a successful prosecution of the decision-makers who were running the Archdiocese. The statute confines its coverage to parents, guardians, or other persons 'supervising the welfare of a child.' High-level Archdiocesan officials, however, were far removed from any direct contact with children."

On Oct. 1, 2006, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, one of the authors of the 2005 grand jury report, wrote an article in the Allentown Morning Call, calling for the closing of legal loopholes in the EWOC law.

"It was also one year ago that the same grand jury revealed gaping loopholes in Pennsylvania laws intended to protect our children," wrote Sorensen, who helped write the 2011 grand jury report, and also worked on the current archdiocese case.

"The grand jury recommended simple amendments to statutes that would close the loopholes," Sorensen wrote. "Lawmakers have yet to pass any of these amendments ... They should promptly enact the Philadelphia grand jury recommendations to: ... make the law against endangering the welfare of children explicitly apply to supervisors who place children in the care of those known to be dangerous to children ... "

"What criminal law reforms cannot do is identify or hold accountable past abusers and enablers who have successfully concealed their offenses until after the statute of limitations has run," Sorensen wrote.

Hmm, that sure sounds like under the old law, prosecutors were saying they didn't have a case against Bill Lynn.

On Nov. 15, 2007, the co-sponsor of the bill to reform the EWOC law, state Rep. Dennis O'Brien, said on the floor of the state house, "The current law punishes only those people with the duty of care to a child who violate that duty by abusing or endangering the child. This bill acknowledges that employers and supervisors of those abusers should also share the responsibility for the welfare of these children. Thus, this bill imposes criminal liability on the employers or supervisors of abusers who knew of the abuse but failed to act, or worse, concealed the abuse."

Defense lawyer Tauber has researched 280 cases in Pennsylvania involving the EWOC statute. "Never once has the statute been applied to a supervisor of empoloyees before the statute was amended in 2007," Tauber said.

Here's what the law was changed to in 2007: "A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

Lynn was secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. He got a pass from former District Attorney Lynne Abraham and the 2005 grand jury that investigated sex abuse in the archdiocese. But in 2011, a new grand jury, and a new district attorney, Seth Williams, looked at the same old EWOC law, and arrived at the opposite conclusion, that the law did apply to Lynn.

"In biblical parlance, it's the Pharaoh who didn't know Joseph," Tauber said.


  1. Lynn chose obedience to his superiors over protecting kids. By going along with his superiors rules, he enabled more kids to be sexually abused. It is a silent agreement within the hierarchy system.

    Clergy sex abuse victims finally have received a bit of justice. This is the first time ever that a catholic church official has been found guilty of child endangerment.

    Plus, there needs to be a strong message sent to all church officials around the world that they can no longer get away with covering up sex crimes against innocent kids. Many other dioceses need to be investigated for enabling and covering up sex crimes against kids.

    It is time to start protecting children instead of protecting predator clerics. Keep in mind that the Philly Archdiocese is not unique in how they handle child sex crimes, all other dioceses have secret archives and many bishops are still not removing accused predators from parishes.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511
    "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests"

    1. You're not reading and commenting on the blog. You are just putting your canned message out there everytime Ralph posts something new. While I appreciate your intent, this might not be the appropriate forum for you. And it might not be fair for you to dominate it.

    2. Christ, Judy, do you even read these posts? Why don't you comment on the material Ralph has presented. You post the same thing every day. Is it getting through to you why people have tuned SNAP out?

      Let me spell this out for you: While Msgr. Lynn might have erred by doing his bosses' bidding for 12 years and kept priests in ministry who should not have been, he may not have been culpable UNDER THE LAW. This took place IN A COURT OF LAW, where the LAW applies.

      Let me ask you this, Judy? Why does SNAP continue to refer to Fr. Brennan as a "serial child molester" ( when in fact he was accused by one person and was not convicted of either of the charges against him?

      Your advocacy is admirable, but your tactics sometimes leave much to be desired.

    3. Frank I haven't seen you post before. You want to know why SNAP and it's appointed leadership are purposefully wanting you to tune out the "oldest and largest" victims group? It's because they want you to forget the victims. My dead cat could do a better job of representing victims.

      If your one of the Dave Pierre crowd. I'm certainly not with you. But I'm definately anti SNAP. I'm a victim not a moron. SNAP is the Church created and paid for by the Church.Would a real grassroots victims organization authorize over $250,000 a year salaries for 3 unelected employees? When 99.9% of victims have been given no therapy? You tell me.
      Why are victims being made to look bad by our "supporters" Jones is no victim. And the maniacal rants offering Murder , painful cancer deaths, alzhiemers other so called supporters to the perps is the worst way, the worst way to gain support for anyone.

      There has been a concerted and well financed effort everywhere including here to make victims appear nuts by people who take our victims' side. And SNAP is in the forefront. God knows kids need to be protected period but why would that be the main (read only) political stand by the oldest and largest victims group for 23 years? Don't you think the already raped might be the primary issue of the raped?

    4. I'm not in anyone's crowd. I think Dave Pierre has done a good job pointing some things out, and he's been off base on others. What I'm looking for, and what Ralph has done admirably here, is someone to go beyond the emotions and treat the issues fairly.

      As for SNAP's internal operations, they are really not my concern. I feel for you. No one should ever go through what you went through.

    5. Archie & Frank,

      You are friends of the Catholic League or themediareport, or you are one of them under another name. We get it.

      You are in mourning because your pedophile protecting pal, Msgr Lynn, is going to jail even though you spent $11 million to save him. It obviously doesn't bother you that the guy was satanic, hiding and moving 35 known pedophiles since 1994 along with his boss and other bishops and priests. A true Christian would want him to be thrown in jail. A Catholic wants to spend $11 million to use any potential limitation in the laws of the time to try to help him get away with it.

      Let's hope Lynn is thrown into general population, and learns what abuse really is. May he get the same treatment as Fr Macrae and Fr Geoghan.

    6. NeilAlienate, your alienating again.

      Here we go again folks different day; same show.

      Alien-ate, quit defending victims. If you have nothing to offer but MURDER!
      Your behavior is insane. You are no victim. Your a phony. A thug in shit's clothing. CUT THE CRAP! With defenders like you, no sane person would want to be on our side. Your anger is off putting. And so are you.
      Lynn should go to jail; but should doesn't mean he will.

    7. Why does SNAP constantly say" send a strong message to Church officials" re. rape of children? You don't think that message has been received by now? Who cares about fixing the Church? I don't. When did fixing the Church supplant fixing the victims? Oh! Ever since we've had SNAP?
      Personally, the only message I strongly want sent to the Church and it's officials is this: Pay up and shut up. Compensate the damaged. Quit whining. You've been caught with our pants down and you've fucked up a lot of peoples lives.

  2. A legal question for those who might be able to answer: If the law wasn't amended until 2007 and Lynn's duty as Secretary for the Clergy ended in 2002, can his action (or inaction) be subjected to the amended language of the 2007 Law?

  3. The foundation for coverups was laid out in the Top-Secret Vatican Document, "Crimen Sollicitationis!" All in the Hierarchy and in positions like Monsignor Lynn knew about it and how the Vatican had made it clear that bishops were to protect Pedophile Priests and the reputation of their holy priests, rather than to seek justice for those molested, raped, sodomized and abused. As Judy said, it was "silent agreement within the Hierarchy system." Now, that agreement seems deafening to almost everyone else, with the exception of the people on the jury and "good Catholics," who can't believe that one of their beloved priests could possibly be responsible for coverups and shuffling a known pedophile from parish to parish. I am waiting for the day that some brave lawyer will bring up Crimen Sollicitationis in court and give the Hierarchy and the Vatican the criminal exposure that they both should receive~

  4. Please SNAP we understand your vendetta against the Church. If not accurate why do you refuse to vigorously pursue these cases? Diana Jean Schemo, “Silently Shifting Teachers in Sex Abuse Cases,” New York Times, June 18, 2002, p. A19.
    Recent Charges of Sexual Abuse of Children in Hollywood Just Tip of Iceberg, Experts SayRead more:

    1. mrita,

      Its simple. It is a full time job to get the Catholic church to stop raping children and start telling the truth.

      You find a handful of examples of this somewhere else, and like a 4 year old child, say "look over there instead".

      The Catholic church is BY FAR the largest pedophile protection program n our lifetime. No other institution is even close. If it is show me the evidence of any institution harboring, hiding and helping 4,392 pedophiles, as the Catholic church did.

      Catholics find a small number, like you did in the Shakeshaft extrapolation, and then say everyone is Catholic-bashing, because Dolan and Donahue told you to do it.

      Its simple - the Cahtolic church is the organized crime syndicate of the child rape world, and this case in Philly is complete proof of how much they were hiding, and how hard they will work to save guys that committed and enabled crimes against humanity.

  5. Ralph,

    Do you know, if In her instructions to the jury, the judge made it clear that Lynn was being tried under the earlier statue, not the revised 2007 law? 

    If she failed to make this clear to the jury, the verdict could well be overturned on appeal and a possible second trial ordered.

    Thank you.

    1. I'm interested in these legal questions, too, Ted!


    My friend has just sent me this link. Holland Catholic Monk murders of severly handicapped boys. Conveniently the Monk is now dead is this why we can now hear of these attrocities.

    Thank-you also for the above information.

  7. The real conspiracy was between bishops, as Ralph wrote, that was the invisible elephant in the room. It seemed to me like they couldn't prosecute the bishops, so they settled for the Monsignor and applied the conspiracy at the priest level, when it's in the hierarcny.

    The real criminals are the bishops, and they seem to be untouchable.

    So far...

    And to Mrita and others who keep bringing up public school teachers who predate: yes, there are pedophiles everywhere. But public school administrators are just ordinary people doing a job. They aren't claiming to have a moral authority and the secret to eternal life. They don't hold influence over politicians and courts.

    Shouldn't we expect better from the Church than from public schools? It's not a genuine comparison. The way Catholic sound byte producers keep bringing up public schools seems more like a diversion and an excuse for these crimes than a real analysis of the crisis.

    1. there are about 4 times as many Catholic school teachers as priests. so always ask the abuse minimizers when they bring up 'it's the school teacher' gambit... "where are the 27,000 Catholic school teacher abusers'?

    2. So Kay are you saying public school administrators who passed the trash should not be held accountable?

    3. Asked and answered. Bringing up public schools when the topic is Catholic pedophile priests is a diversionary tactic. The bishops are guilty. Deal with it.

    4. Frank,

      For simplicity, show the 35 known pedophile teachers in Philadelphia in 1994 that were being passed around, like Lynn was doing with his 35 known pedophile priests.

      Or show us 4,392 in the US in the last 50 years, like the Catholic church admitted in their own report.

      It doesn't exist. The Catholic church is the world leader in pedophile protection.

  8. It does sound like the 2007 law should not have been applied to Lynn. Was this an affirmative defense which was presented during the trial? Were arguments made for and against it? Was there a ruling on it? If not, you can't appeal it. If the Judge ruled that the 2007 law applied, what was the basis for the ruling?

  9. Kay so well said. About diversionary tactics in regards to public schools. Notice how they never speak of the victims in any real sense. Real politic would say Victims are still out there un cared for and ignored. But why bring reality into an argument about who has more perps.


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