Friday, December 27, 2013

Judge Sarmina To Decide Whether Msgr. Lynn Gets Out Of Jail

By Ralph Cipriano

The state Superior Court has reversed the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn, saying he never should have been charged in the first place with the crime of endangering the welfare of a child.

But whether Lynn gets out of jail is up to Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, the trial court judge who put Lynn away, and whose prior rulings in the case have been described by a panel of three Superior Court judges as "fundamentally flawed."

At 10 a.m. Monday, Judge Sarmina will convene a bail hearing to determine whether Msgr. Lynn gets out of jail. The hearing will be held in Courtroom 507 of the Criminal Justice Center. Several members of District Attorney Seth Williams' office are expected to attend, and argue that the monsignor deserves to stay in jail for months or years while the D.A. appeals the Superior Court opinion.

For Msgr. Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, this doesn't make much sense.

"The Superior Court has said he [Lynn] should be discharged forthwith, so I don’t think that requires any interpretation," Bergstrom said. "Seems to me she [Judge Sarmina] has to do exactly what they’ve ordered," Bergstrom said, referring to the panel of three Superior Court judges that reversed Lynn's conviction.

In the past, however, Judge Sarmina, has not exactly been impartial, or merciful, when it comes to Msgr. Lynn.

Sarmina is the trial court judge who allowed 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse to be admitted as evidence against Lynn, to show a pattern of conduct in the archdiocese of Philadelphia. The cases dated back to 1948, three years before the 62-year-old monsignor was born.

Think that could prejudice a jury? Lynn's defense lawyers did, and so they argued the issue on appeal, but it was never addressed by the Superior Court.

Sarmina presided over a ridiculously slanted show trial of Lynn. She made so many rulings in favor of the district attorney that I wrote that she was "often mistaken for a member of the prosecution team."

Judge Sarmina allowed the lead prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, a fire and brimstone specialist, to have free reign. Blessington called Lynn a liar 14 times in one hour; he also attacked Lynn's lawyers as liars and freely insulted them, seemingly to pick a street fight. None of that conduct, however, ever seemed to upset Judge Sarmina, who was too busy slapping down defense lawyers.

When Lynn was convicted, and his supporters and family members were crying in the courtroom, it was Judge Sarmina who ordered Lynn to be immediately taken into custody. The judge decided that Lynn was too much of a flight risk to be granted bail pending appeal, because, she said, he might try to flee to the Vatican.

That prompted Lynn to say, The Vatican? The archdiocese won't even return my phone calls.

Judge Sarmina gave Lynn a sentence of three to six years in jail, which was actually a bit of a break since he was facing a prison term of 3 1/2 to 7 years. But she blasted Lynn at sentencing, saying he had turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the suffering of victims of sex abuse.

"You knew full well what was right, Msgr. Lynn, but you chose wrong," she told Lynn. As secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, Sarmina said, Lynn had displayed insensitivity to victims. He was either promising to do something, and doing nothing, the judge said, or he was doing his best to "callously shield the priests."

As a consequence, the judge said, Lynn allowed "monsters in clerical garb" to "destroy the souls of children" in "the most terrible way."

After she put him away, Judge Sarmina held up Lynn's appeal by taking nearly eight months to file a document known as an opinion in support of order, or a 1925 (a) opinion that required the judge to respond to appeal issues raised by Lynn's defense lawyers. 

Judge Sarmina was supposed to file her opinion within 60 days. The Superior Court eventually ordered Sarmina to file the document forthwith; they also allowed Lynn's defense team to proceed with an appeal in the absence of Judge Sarmina's opinion.

So you can't blame Lynn's defense lawyers for being cautious Monday when they return to Judge Sarmina's kangaroo court.

In a bail motion filed Dec. 26th, the same day the Superior Court reversed Lynn's conviction, defense lawyers Bergstrom and Allison Khaskelis argued that "as of Dec. 26, 2013, Msgr. Lynn has been incarcerated at SCI Waymart for more than 18 months."

"On Dec. 26, 2013, in a unanimous opinion authored by President Judge John T. Bender, the Superior Court reversed [Lynn's] conviction on the merits and ordered him discharged absolutely and forthwith," the defense lawyers wrote. "Pursuant to the opinion of the Superior Court, Msgr. Lynn now seeks an order from the trial court vacating his judgement of sentence and his immediate release on bail."

"In light of the unequivocal language of the Superior Court opinion, as well as the amount of time Msgr. Lynn has already served at SCI Waymart, justice required that this Court take immediate action in this case," the defense lawyers wrote Judge Sarmina.

Despite their victory in the appeal court, Lynn's defense lawyers will face a battle in Courtroom 507.

A spokeswoman for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams told Allison Steele of The Philadelphia Inquirer that prosecutors will appeal the Superior Court's ruling and ask that Lynn remain in prison while the appeal is being considered.

"Since we are seeking further review, the appeal is not over and probably won't be over for many months or years," said spokesperson Tasha Jamerson. "The decades-long inaction of Lynn put countless children in harm's way and he is where he belongs -- behind bars," Jamerson told the Inquirer. "We will be fighting bail of any kind for this defendant."

So now we know where the local district attorney stands on the rule of law.

We have what the Superior Court described as the "plain language" of the state's original child endangerment law that says under that law, Lynn should never have been charged.

We have a 2005 grand jury report under Seth Williams' predecessor, District Attorney Lynne Abraham, that says that the state's original child endangerment law didn't apply to Msgr. Lynn, and he couldn't be charged.

We have a  unanimous panel of Superior Court judges that reversed Lynn's conviction, saying the child endangerment law didn't apply to Lynn, and that in essence, he never should have been charged.

As Lynn's lawyers have said, their client's been sitting in jail for more than 18 months. serving time for a crime that under the law, he couldn't possibly have committed.

Msgr. Lynn continues to serve as a scapegoat for the collective sins of the Catholic Church in Philadelphia.

Two dead archbishops who gave the orders and orchestrated the cover-up were never charged with any crime, and are dead.

Two bishops who presided over the shredding of a list of 35 predator priests drawn up by Msgr. Lynn have never even been questioned.

Most of the 60 "monsters in clerical garb" are either free or dead.

Lynn remains in jail.

Standing in the way of letting him out we have a biased judge who already screwed up the case. And a unscrupulous district attorney determined to continue the rule of mob law.

Justice in Philadelphia; what a disgrace.


  1. This is unbelievably bad news. How hideous that Monsignor's fate is back in her hands. Seeing her picture back up on this blog caused me to gasp in fear!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Since when did a Democrat politician, judge, etc. believe in following the rule of law? They only rarely do so when it corresponds to their a priori agenda. In New Jersey, the Debra Poritz Supreme Court allowed for Lautenberg to run for US Senator, in total and complete violation of the New Jersey Constitution. Democrats are liars and emulate Satan, the father of lies. Oh yes, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina is a Democrat.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Since when did a Democrat politician, judge, etc. believe in following the rule of law? They only rarely do so when it corresponds to their a priori agenda. In New Jersey, the Debra Poritz Supreme Court allowed for Lautenberg to run for US Senator, in total and complete violation of the New Jersey Constitution. Democrats are liars and emulate Satan, the father of lies. Oh yes, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina is a Democrat.

    5. Since when did a Democrat politician, judge, etc. believe in following the rule of law? They only rarely do so when it corresponds to their a priori agenda. In New Jersey, the Debra Poritz Supreme Court allowed for Lautenberg to run for US Senator, in total and complete violation of the New Jersey Constitution. Democrats are liars and emulate Satan, the father of lies. Oh yes, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina is a Democrat.

    6. Since when did a Democrat politician, judge, etc. believe in following the rule of law? They only rarely do so when it corresponds to their a priori agenda. In New Jersey, the Debra Poritz Supreme Court allowed for Lautenberg to run for US Senator, in total and complete violation of the New Jersey Constitution. Democrats are liars and emulate Satan, the father of lies. Oh yes, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina is a Democrat.

    7. Since when did a Democrat politician, judge, etc. believe in following the rule of law? They only rarely do so when it corresponds to their a priori agenda. In New Jersey, the Debra Poritz Supreme Court allowed for Lautenberg to run for US Senator, in total and complete violation of the New Jersey Constitution. Democrats are liars and emulate Satan, the father of lies. Oh yes, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina is a Democrat.

    8. Gee Ted, Do Democrats cause cancer and body odor too?

  2. Wonder what DA seth williams is going to use to try and persuade ms. sarmina to stay on his side this time?

  3. Why did the Superior Court not order the release Monsignor Lynn without referring the case back to the trial judge?

  4. Had I been Governor of the State of Pennsylvania, I would have quickly issued a pardon to Lynn and had State Police drive him directly to Philadelphia and at the same time, take steps to have Judge Sarmina removed from the bench for just cause. This issuance of the pardon would instantly end the case and at the same time, action would be taken to have Sarmina appear before a bench of judges to see if she is fit to continue in office.

    A judge has enormous responsibilities while sitting on the bench. He or she must be adept at keeping the defense and prosecution at ease in much the same way a lion tamer controls the lions in the cage. Good judgment must be used at all times, not some of the time in evaluating motions and in ensuring that both sides behave themselves during the trial.

    Sarmina refused to dismiss charges against Lynn not only once but multiple times during the trial. Even if provided with crystal clear reasoning why the charges should be dismissed, Sarmina again and again rejected the relief Lynn's defense was seeking. And she had to be corrected in her erroneous reasoning by Superior Court in a 3 to zero decision.

    To have her decide whether Lynn gets bail or not is like giving somebody a gun to decide whether the victim lives or dies. She is not fit to remain on the bench as she is hopelessly biased against Lynn and cannot in any shape or form be trusted to be fair and professional. Thus, she must be told to resign from the bench and let a more deserving lawyer take her place.

    For Judge Sarmina to do the ultimate - deny bail to Lynn would be disobeying the ruling of Superior Court and thus leave her open to judicial discipline and removal from office if it is shown she is not psychologically fit to govern.

    Sarmina's biggest mistake is going on a crusade to remove child abusers from the Catholic Church as this is not her role as judge to do so. Child abuse has many victims and they do not necessarily come from the Catholic Church but can come from all segments of society including close family members and teachers in the local school district. Sarmina should know this and act accordingly.

    For her to refuse bail will see Lynn's team successfully petitioning Superior Court to grant bail while this is reviewed at the appellate level. Once done, then focus will be put on Sarmina and DA Seth Williams and their collective unfitness to remain on duty in their positions.

    Most likely scenario, Sarmina will grant bail and take Seth Williams off the path to trouble. She will benefit from holding off the tigers aiming to get her once she lets Lynn leave prison. Then it will be easier to formally kill the case.

  5. 235 pages to justify the reasoning Sarmina came to this issue. How many trees did she fell to get the paper to write this useless reasoning?

  6. Hey, perhaps Seth Williams will be rehiring Mariana Sorensen to argue the appeal.....

  7. James, you blast Judge Sarmina for being blind or "one sided" but what about the hundreds of Catholic Bishops and their diocesan Vicars and Monsignors who repeatedly ignored civil laws, failed to report known and or suspected pedophile clergy, all in an effort to protect an institution instead of the countless children entrusted to their care. How many children were raped, lives ruined, families torn apart by the cold, cruel, calculating, UNCHRISTIAN actions of those who had the knowledge and power to stop this madness yet turned a blind eye.
    We need more Judges with the wisdom of Solomon, like judge Sarmina...Church officials want to talk about the INTENT of the law and how it didn't apply to Monsignor Lynn. These same men never worried about NOT ONLY the intent of civil law, but more importantly ANY moral responsibility to protect our children from the clutches of these predators. JUSTICE WAS DONE, just this once...not to the churches liking. No surprise they will pull out every stop to blame the judge and deflect attention from the REAL crimes that were committed here...regardless of what civil law the superior court was attempting to interpret.

    1. Mark, the judge can only look at this case in one way, and that is as a matter of law. What hundreds of Catholic bishops and officials did or did not do has no bearing on Msgr. Lynn's case. The abuse of children is reprehensible, but according to the law the way it was written, Msgr. Lynn had no supervision of any abuse victims. It is not a technicality; it is not a loophole. The judges who heard the appeal ruled the only way they could, which was for a reversal.
      You should be directing your blame at the district attorney for bringing charges that he knew would never hold up, and at Judge Sarmina for appearing to let personal feelings get in the way.

    2. Mark, when you try someone, be sure you use the right statute to ensure a conviction will be upheld. The DA used the 1972 Child Endangerment Act to convict Lynn by interpreting that revisions made in 2007 applied to him while choosing to ignore conveniently the fact that Lynn left the position in 2004. Superior Court ruled otherwise by a 3-0 ruling that vindicated Lynn and his attorney Bergstrom. Repeated motions for dismissal of the charges were made by Bergstrom only to be rebuffed time and time by Sarmina. Had Sarmina ruled as a good judge should have ruled, the case would have collapsed on its merits and for good reason.

      As I said before, the Roman Catholic Church was not the only place where abuses happened to children decades past. Those acts occurred in family homes, public and private schools, colleges, camps. Today children are better protected than children decades ago who were afraid to raise a hand fearing they would not be believed against the word of someone in high authority.

  8. For someone to be convicted of crimes that occurred three years before they were born says it all about this Judge. They should release Monsignor Lynn and lock up the corrupt DA Seth Williams, and throw away the key while they're at it!

  9. Take a look at this YouTube video which features Judge Sarmina when she was running for the Superior Court several years ago.

    Around 2:30, she states that she always observes and follows the law.....intellectual honesty...etc:


  10. We as Democratic committee people, ward leaders, etc. Put her in office knowing she was a hack. She must be held accountable. Seth you are blowing it!

    1. Judges are appointed for life.... chance these laws..time for change...these people are human too and need to be elected and run a term like others!

  11. No matter what you think of Monsignor Lynn, his prosecution was lawless. Both the judge and the DA reasoned that the acts against minors were so heinous that Monsignor Lynn should be prosecuted even if the laws of Pennsylvania don't permit it. Regardless of one's opinions about the Catholic Church, about Monsignor Lynn or about sex crimes against minors, we live in a country of laws and it matters whether judges follow the law or not. This judge is frightening. She believes that she can disregard the law if it serves what she defines as a higher purpose. I think Monsignor Lynn was scapegoated, but even more important, it is terrifying that a judge and an out of control DA can go after a person and an institution they don't like and just blow aside the rules of law and justice because they think the serve a purpose higher than law. God help all of us if this is the future of America!

  12. Haha! What ashame you all still believe in our justice system to be fair and impartial!

    Where do you people live? Under a rock? Can you imagine a judge getting to decide on their own already apparently reversed decision? She needs to recuse herself. BUT, remember my friends, judges are protected by immunity for prosecution from their wrong doing! Oh how fair and impartial this joke of a system is...Its really sad for those who do try to abide by the laws..

    Maybe you should start be looking into the Represent Us petition and

  13. From the Philadelphia Inky, the Lynn case may affect the pending prosecution of three former PSU administrators now that the 1972 EWOC cannot be used at all. Prosecutors in Philly will file appeal to Pennsylvania State Supreme Court and Judge Hoover may well be reluctant to grant the three PSU administrators dismissal of their case pending how the Philly Lynn case shapes up in higher court review.

    Best bet, the Supreme Court will back Superior Court and let the decision stand as you cannot make your own conclusions on the law you choose to cite in your brief other than to follow exactly what the law says. Only thing remaining to be seen is whether Sarmina will grant Lynn bail (doubtful) and Bergstrom will petition State Supreme Court to grant bail. It would not be fair to keep Lynn in jail until this is decided by the State Supreme Court as what recourse would he have to get compensated for wrongful imprisonment?

  14. The one problem with the EWOC is that in its revised state, if you are a person in charge of a school and one of your staffers had an inappropriate relationship with a child and you did not know of it until it happened but took action by notifying the police and terminating the person involved, prosecutors could still charge you with child endangerment like they did with Lynn and the three PSU administrators.

    Were we to let this happen, then where will we find willing people to take over administrative positions such as principal, superintendent, college president and the chance they may be arrested, lose their job, ruin their reputations and career and end up in jail? Is this what we intended to also happen apart from arresting and charging the perp?

  15. The entire case against Lynn and the others was based on a series of bogus allegations by a lying, thieving, lifelong drug addict/drug dealer named Danny Gallagher, the indictment of those men including Lynn came long before the actual investigation of those alleged crimes. The historic prosecution as the DA labeled this prosecution has put an innocent priest and innocent teacher in jail for lengthy sentences for crimes that were never committed....If Lynn is guilty of a crime, then charge him for a crime that was actually committed, not for a trumped up set of accusations by the son of a connected Philly cop that to this day, do not add up.....In his case, the Superior Court has ruled in his favor and he should be set free accordingly....

  16. Just tonight Seth Williams said it was "disgusting" that the Archdiocese paid 25K to bail out Lynn. Was he expecting Lynn's family to scrounge up the coins for the bail?

    Where is the Mayor? And why is Nutter tolerating such incompetence from his own DA instead of telling him to shut up and work on his appeal?

    If Seth Williams fails to come up with the appeal, the charges will be dropped and Lynn will be a truly free man and the Archdiocese will get back its 25K. Sarmina was wrong to insist on 250K bail plus requiring him to reside in Philadelphia and to report to a probation officer each week..When the Superior Court says this man is free from jail, this man is free from jail, not saddled with 250K bail, electronicl monitoring and weekly visits to his probation officer. Free is free period!

    Time for Seth to be investigated by the Bar Disciplinary Committee.

    And now to Englehardt and Shero, work needs to be done to get those men out of jail ASAP.


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