Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Shroud Of Secrecy Descends Over Long-Running Msgr. Lynn Case

By Ralph Cipriano

A hearing where Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright was supposed to rule on a defense motion to dismiss the retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn because of alleged prosecutorial misconduct has been moved to March 24th, at 2 p.m.

Judge Bright was originally scheduled to rule on the motion to dismiss on March 1st, but the hearing was postponed without any public explanation.

Seven years into the Msgr. Lynn case, Judge Bright has draped a shroud of secrecy over the proceedings by imposing a gag order on the lawyers in the case. As part of that gag order, those lawyers are required to file motions and legal briefs under seal. Two recent pretrial hearings in the judge's courtroom were marked by lengthy back room conferences.

It's hard to understand what the secrecy is all about since the Msgr. Lynn case has been out in public since 2011. That's when our grandstanding and ethically-challenged district attorney, Rufus Seth Williams, released a mistake-filled grand jury report that forever hung the defendants out to dry on bogus rape charges perpetrated by a fraud.

The Msgr. Lynn case was tried in front of a Common Pleas Court jury in 2012, resulting in a guilty verdict on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child.

The state Superior Court in 2013 overturned that conviction and ordered a new trial for Lynn, but that  decision was reversed by state Supreme Court in 2015. A year later, in 2016, the state Superior Court again overturned Msgr. Lynn's conviction and ordered a new trial. The state Supreme Court then decided not to take another appeal from the D.A.'s office. That set the stage for the retrial of Lynn, scheduled for May 1st.

All those proceedings transpired in public. The alleged victim in the case, "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, has been publicly outed on the cover of Newsweek as a fraud. We also know that Gallagher collected $5 million in a civil settlement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that was supposed to be kept confidential.

At a January hearing in Judge Bright's courtroom, Joseph Walsh, the retired lead detective in the case, has come forward to express all the doubts he had about Danny Gallagher's fantastic stories, and the many lies he caught Gallagher in. Walsh has also testified that when he told the lead prosecutor, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, about Gallagher's lack of credibility, she replied, "You're killing my case."

That's the misconduct that the defense claims tainted the prosecution of Lynn; a D.A.'s office where the prosecutor knew that Gallagher wasn't a credible witness -- actually they had to know he was a complete liar -- but they went ahead any way and tried the case, for political gain.

So Judge Bright, seven years into this travesty of justice, why all the secrecy?

In a phone interview, Thomas McGill, the judge's law clerk, acknowledged that the Msgr. Lynn case has already been the subject of local, national and international publicity. The gag order, he said, "is designed to limit" any further publicity, because the judge is concerned about "tainting the potential jury pool."

"The judge has decided that until the case goes to trial there will be no additional publicity concerning the case," McGill said.

Except on

Besides the motion to dismiss, the judge has two other pending defense motions to rule on. Thomas A. Bergstrom, Lynn's lawyer, has asked the judge to preclude the 2012 guilty plea of former priest Edward V. Avery from being admitted as evidence. In court in 2013, when he was called as a prosecution witness, Avery publicly recanted that guilty plea. On the witness stand, Avery testified that he never even met Danny Gallagher. But he pleaded guilty because he was facing a long prison sentence, and didn't want to die in jail.

Bergstrom also has filed a motion to preclude any supplemental sex abuse cases from being admitted as evidence in the retrial of Lynn.

A panel of three Superior Court judges ruled in 2016 that the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, had abused her discretion by allowing 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse to be admitted as evidence against Msgr. Lynn.

The 21 cases dated back to 1948, three years before the 66-year-old Lynn was born, and took up at least 25 days of the 32-day trial. In an appeal brief, Lynn's lawyers argued that the prosecution "introduced these files to put on trial the entire Archdiocese of Philadelphia, hoping to convict [Lynn] by proxy for the sins of the entire church."

The Superior Court judges agreed, ruling that the "probative value" of the supplemental cases "did not outweigh its potential for unfair prejudice, and that the judge "has apparently mistaken quantity for quality in construing the probative value of this evidence en masse." The Superior Court judges further declared that the "probative value of significant quantities of this evidence was trivial or minimal."

At a pretrial hearing, an assistant district attorney said the prosecution would like to introduce at the retrial a dozen supplemental cases of sex abuse. Bergstrom, however, argued to Judge Bright that all 12 cases should not be admitted as evidence because they had nothing to do with Msgr. Lynn.


  1. Interesting how the prosecution,judge included, is worried about" tainting the jury pool" which is a very curious statement to make, an acceptance if you you will, of news agencies influence over a jury.

    The prosecution originally used 25 days of testimony that surely helped convict Lynn, and now want to use 12 cases to achieve the same desired results. If I were Bergstrom I would submit 12 cases from the National Registry of Exonerations or the Innocence Project citing prosecutorial misconduct, overreaching, faulty eyewitnesses testimony,and info given by jailhouse witnesses that gave damming testimony against defendants for a lighter sentence or no jail time as promised by the prosecution.

    Better yet have one or two of the innocently accused that were forced to plea bargain that were saved from death by the Innocence Projects, that would have an impact on the jury. The information is readily available as the new 2016 statistics are out now.

    God knows we can't make the prosecution/government look like they conspired against a defendant or that they invented a high profile crime that they knew would be easy to gain a conviction, due to the sex scandal hysteria that has gripped the nation.

    No wonder the entire country is so angry, we are being treated miserably by our own government.

  2. "The gag designed to limit" any further publicity, because the judge is concerned about "tainting the potential jury pool." Huh? Damage Control? Sorry - far too late! One can't un-ring the proverbial bell.

    Or maybe - just maybe - she wants her judicial rulings to be viewed as above reproach - - - - unlike those of the judges who came before her.

    Or maybe, Bright is waiting to see what happens to Rufus before she rules. An indictment against Rufus could well be a game changer as this case is still a politically charged 'hot potato'.

    If she decides to try this case, there's no way that the court will be able to find potential jurors who (claim to) have no knowledge of the previous activities - - - unless a change of venue (say) to Appalachia is approved. And that's even doubtful.

  3. Or Bright is holding off rulings until May when the trial starts. Either waiting for Rufus to get indicted or hoping for plea bargain to be offered. Since Lynn served 33 out of 36 month in prison only 3 months left to serve before parole. Rufus would have to bring back Danny Gallagher if Bergsstrom files to question him at trial. Rufus has too much pride to offer a plea bargain. I would petition for trial to be held out of Philadelphia under another judge.

  4. I would really love to know all the wheeling and dealing that is going on behind the scenes in this case. I suspect there is a lot of evil going on as the parties duck and dive to save their faces and reputations at the expense of Monsignor Lynn and the Church, not to mention those also unjustly sent to prison.

  5. Ralph thank you again for keeping us updated - you are our only source of information. With all of the Seth Williams failure stories, why not more on all the drug charges against Danny Gallagher that were thrown out, in return for his testimony against Msgr Lynn, Fr Englehardt, and Mr Shero

  6. Too bad the Inquirer is not giving the facts about Seth Williams to the public, we Philadelphians will be replacing him with a new DA, yet without the full facts of what he did to innocent men, we will not be able to make an informed decision on the next DA.

    We will be unable to ask questions of the newcomers to protect our own safety. We must find out who else has employed the same tactics as Seth Williams did in manipulating a grand jury and the press.

    Without accurate reporting by the Inquirer we stand to replicate the same outrageous behavior, no innocent person is safe in our city without the full facts.

    The Inquirer is going to have to decided who they are protecting, those that use devious, malicious and illegal means to prosecute fellow citizens or to stand up for the people who are the backbone of our nation. Without all the facts we are making bad choices at the polls.

    Those that report on any matter relating to the DOJ need to be better educated as to the larger picture,the influence wielded by police, prosecutors and the FBI and IRS who have a the ultimate power over all citizens must be better explained and showcased to the public,we all need to be updated and informed as these matters touch all of our lives.

    I would suggest and entire section every Sunday showcasing the excellent articles that appear in the Marshall Project everyday, highlight the good works the Innocence Projects are doing, the Quattrone Center at the U Of P Law School and learned practitioners that would help shape our opinions instead of the one sided prosecution side that we know has formed public opinion.

    Discrimination is apparent on the Inquirers part,continually being pro-prosecution takes away our ability to see both sides of an argument. We have become a nation of haters, we discriminate open and freely on those that find themselves in the crosshairs of any prosecution. We are taught to despise and show outright loathing to anyone who name appears in the Inquirers pages as they are surely guilty, the Inquirer said they were.

    Their reporters behave like paparazzi trying to get a photo of the accused for the purpose of sensationalizing their plight. Is this the type of journalism we deserve, I was hoping for better from the media serving one of the larger metropolitan area in the nation.

    No government agency or news outlet should be in the business of shaming and ruining citizens lives and the lives of their families.

  7. I got my wish ...Seth Williams indicted for taking bribes and kickbacks, sold his office numerous times for trips, cash, etc....

    may all of the innocent men who went to prison for this malicious prosecution have some comfort knowing that Seth is headed to prison down the road, another disgraced thieving politician willing to sell his office to the highest bidder.....may the family of Fr Engelhardt have some comfort knowing this lying scumbag is headed to prison.....

    ah, I can hear those steel prison doors closing behind Seth's fat ass now, brings a smile to my face...

  8. The goal of the Catholic, like the goal of satan, is to get away with evil.

    Jesus said child rape was unforgivable in Matt 18:6-14, and you should find and help every victim. Of course He would say that.

    Catholics try to take the opposite view, that the goal should be to use flawed local laws to get away with evil.

    Msgr Lynn hid and protected at least 37 known pedo priests and destroyed evidence about them in 1994. Jesus wouldn't. The devil would.

    5 other priests also knew about it and protected the pedos instead of the victims. Jesus wouldn't. The devil would. Two were named bishops for their loyalty in protecting evil and defying Jesus.

    The Catholic church continues to try to get away with it, and it's followers are giddy about the possibility, defying Jesus as much as they can, and embracing evil.

    If Jesus wasn't lying, they'll get an eternity worse than drowning at the bottom of the ocean with a rock around their neck

  9. How is it going right now at the CJC?


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