Thursday, August 16, 2012

Defense Lawyers Ask State Superior Court to Grant Bail to Monsignor Lynn

Msgr. Lynn's lawyers are asking the state Superior Court to let their client out on bail pending appeal.

In a brief filed this week, Lynn's lawyers say the monsignor was convicted on June 22 of one count of endangering the welfare of a child [EWOC] "based upon a novel and controversial theory of liability that held him criminally responsible for inadequately supervising a priest ... alleged to have sexually abused a child."

The state's 1972 child endangerment law was usually applied to parents, guardians, and those in direct contact with children, say defense lawyers Thomas A. Bergstrom, Allison Khaskelis, and Alan J. Tauber. Lynn is the first supervisor in the history of Pennsylvania to be charged under the old child endangerment law, even though he never had any direct contact with the child, the lawyers argue.

The defense lawyers say they have a  "substantial legal claim" because in 2005, then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham agreed that the old state endangerment law did not apply to Lynn, Cardinal Bevilacqua or other members of the hierarchy of the archdiocese of Philadelphia.

A 2005 grand jury report concluded: "the offense of endangering the welfare of children is too narrow to support a successful prosecution of the decision makers who are running the Archdiocese. The statute confines its coverage to parents, guardians, and other persons 'supervising the welfare of a child.' High level Archdiocesan officials, however, were far removed from any direct contact with children."

The l972 EWOC law states: "A parent, guardian or other persons supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of a child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

"Pennsylvania appellate courts that have examined the [old] statute have uniformly concluded ... that those responsible for 'supervising the welfare of a child' are parents, parental surrogates or direct supervisors of children only," the lawyers argued.

In 2006, the district attorney's office "zealously advocated for an an amendment of the EWOC statute to cover supervisors and employers that would make church hierarchy and corporate managers liable going forward," the defense lawyers wrote.

As part of that lobbying effort, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen argued in an Oct. 1, 2006 article in the Allentown Morning Call that the legislature 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."

The amended law, which took effect in 2007, says, "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."

Then in 2011, a new district attorney, Seth Williams, and a new grand jury decided the old 1972 law did apply to Lynn, and the monsignor was indicted for endangering the welfare of a child. In their brief, Lynn's defense lawyers refer to the change of policy as "an unprecedented flip-flop of statutory interpretation" that has never been explained. 

Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in prison by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who also denied him bail. In their appeal to Superior Court, Lynn's defense lawyers contend that the 61-year-old monsignor deserves bail because he has been a priest for 36 years, has deep ties to the community, and no previous record of criminal behavior, so he is not a flight risk.


  1. They're like drones. You complete a legal procedure, think it's over, then up pops another team of attorneys for the church. They are nonstop, bottomless suppliers of motions, appeals, and prejudice.
    Kay Ebeling
    City of Angels Blog

    1. Ms. Ebeling - They are the same attorneys. They are not a new team of attorneys nor drones. Have you not followed this case or Ralph's blog?? They are the same attorneys for the Msgr. They represent Msgr. Lynn NOT the Church. This is about Msgr Lynn individually and not the Church. God Bless!

    2. Same attorneys, not a different team, not drones and not prejudice. Are you? Also, the attorneys do not represent the church, only Monsignor Lynn.

    3. And their fees are paid by who?

  2. The important issue is who pays for these attorneys and it isn't Lynn.

  3. Do you really think there's a difference between the monsignor and the Church? Or that one church attorney will do anything contrary to the rest? Have you been reading the news for the last ten years?

  4. If, here real issues are skirted or details dissected as a way of controlling discourse. Could someone please aim me towards a place where victims can post in peace without being pecked to death by oppressive posts that attack the poster (usually a real victim)?
    At site after site this hired crew attack and obfuscate. And then pretend they are innocent church supporters simply "asking questions" well that's total bullshit.
    Questions are never asked.Personal aspersions are made instead.

    Some of you people out there must have noticed this extraordinary behavior

  5. Hang in there Jim. There are many of us who support you. These are complex matters, yet can be reduced to their simplest form. Are you with us or not?

    We are with you Jim. Hang in. Ignore those whom you describe, as much as possible. They are desperately on the run.

    They defend the indefensible, and are aggressive towards the vulnerable. Deep in their hearts they know the truth, they simply are unable to muster the courage to face it.

  6. Interesting article....given the missive of the AOP

  7. The axis of evil appeals.a life of poverty and purity revealed as a charade to exploit the community.theological pin heads bemoaning their fate while high priced shysters scurry to the next court room without any connection to the irreversable pain caused.

  8. I read your blog frequently and I just thought I’d say keep up the amazing work...malpractice lawyer former


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