Thursday, June 28, 2018

As His Case Heads For Retrial, Msgr. Lynn Holds A Trump Card

By Ralph Cipriano

The state Superior Court today cleared the way for a retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn by rejecting an appeal to toss the case against him because of intentional prosecutorial misconduct and double jeopardy.

The monsignor, however, did score one legal victory. In a separate decision, the Superior Court ruled in Lynn's favor to limit the number of supplemental cases of sex abuse that can be introduced as evidence at a retrial, to show a pattern spanning decades of covering up sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The Superior Court's two opinions issued today mean that both sides can proceed with the sequel in their long-running grudge match, once again starring Detective Joe Walsh. Only this time around, Walsh, the D.A.'s former ace lead detective on the case, will be testifying on behalf of the defendant, about prosecutorial misconduct in the D.A.'s office.

Besides Walsh, there's one big difference between the first and second trials of Msgr. Lynn. Today, a three-judge panel for the state Superior Court said they looked for but could not find "a single instance" of intentional prosecutorial misconduct. But in the retrial, Lynn's lawyers are holding a trump card that they may soon flash to trial Judge Gwendolyn Bright -- newly discovered evidence of intentional prosecutorial misconduct that's a slam-dunk. It's seven pages of prosecutor's notes that the D.A.'s office repeatedly told three different judges over the years didn't exist, only to have those notes mysteriously reappear eight years later, on the eve of a retrial. If the state Superior Court was looking for conclusive evidence of intentional prosecutorial misconduct, Lynn's lawyers have got the goods.

At his original trial in 2012, Lynn, the archdiocese's secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, was convicted on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and sentenced to 3 to 6 years in jail.

He served 33 out of 36 months of his minimum sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest. His conviction, however, was overturned twice on appeal by the same Superior Court that ruled today for a third time on the same case. The first time the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's conviction, in 2013, the state Supreme Court came back in 2015 to overrule the Superior Court, and reinstate Lynn's conviction. The Superior Court in 2016 then decided to overturn the monsignor's conviction for a second time.

Detective Walsh came forward last year to testify that he had repeatedly questioned the star witness against Lynn, former altar boy Danny Gallagher, about numerous factual discrepancies in his various claims of abuse. And that during a pre-trial prep session, Walsh testified, Gallagher either didn't respond to his questions, claimed he was high on drugs, or entertained the skeptical detective with new stories of abuse.

Gallagher had falsely claimed that he was raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher, telling many different versions of the imaginary crime spree. Some of those tales are transparently ridiculous; others are contradicted by other witnesses in the case. They include teachers, priests and nuns at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philly, where Gallagher claimed to have been repeatedly victimized in an unprecedented fashion [three rapists conspiring with each other to pass around the hapless altar boy like a piñata] as well as members of Gallagher's own family, who also contradicted Danny Boy's tall tales.

None of the results of Walsh's grilling of Gallagher were reported to the defense. That prompted Judge Bright to rule it was prosecutorial conduct serious enough to warrant a new trial for Lynn, if the state Superior Court, in a previous 2016 ruling, had not already granted the monsignor a new trial. But, Judge Bright ruled, the D.A.'s machinations didn't amount to intentional prosecutorial misconduct, which would have led the judge to blow out the case.

The Superior Court agreed.

"At the conclusion of the hearings, the trial court found that while the Commonwealth failed to provide Lynn with certain aspects of Detective Walsh's investigation, there was no evidence this failure constituted misconduct severe enough to warrant dismissal of Lynn's charges," the Superior Court wrote in a 16-page opinion authored by Judge Jack A. Panella.

The Superior Court also agreed that the D.A.'s office, under Rufus Seth Williams, was not guilty of "intentional prosecutorial misconduct," Judge Panella wrote, which would justified throwing out the case on the grounds of double jeopardy.

Here we come to the crucial part of today's Superior Court decision.

"We are unable to find a single instance during the multiple hearings on the mater where Lynn produced evidence of the Commonwealth's intent in withholding this information," the Superior Court opinion states. "It is not clear that the prosecution was even aware of the content of Detective Walsh's witness preparation interview."

"While this does not excuse the Commonwealth from performing their duties under Brady," the Superior Court wrote. The court was referring to the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Maryland v. Brady, which established that prosecutors have a duty to turn over any evidence that might benefit a defendant."It certainly undermines the assertion that the Commonwealth intentionally withheld the content of the witness preparation interview," the Superior Court concluded.

Lynn's lawyers had asserted that the D.A.'s office acted "intentionally and in bad faith" by placing a witness on the stand "who it alone knew would lie," the Superior Court wrote. But the Superior Court panel of judges found that "inconsistencies in evidence . . . do not equate to the introduction false evidence."

Whether Danny Gallagher is a flaming liar is an issue "solely for the jury to evaluate as to credibility," the Superior Court wrote. As to whether Assistant District Attorney Sorensen knowingly presented false evidence," the Superior Court wrote, there is no evidence of that because, according to Detective Walsh, Sorensen "repeatedly told him she believed" Gallagher's testimony.

"We will not disturb this determination," the judges wrote.

But now that the case is going to be retried, Lynn's lawyers are free to disturb this determination.

They can start by calling retired Detective Walsh to the stand, and have him testify about what a lying dirtbag Danny Gallagher is. Walsh can also testify about Assistant District Attorney Sorensen's costuming hatred of the church, and her blind, single-minded zealotry in the crusade to bag Msgr. Lynn as the designated fall guy for the sins of the archdiocese against children spanning four decades.

And then, Lynn's lawyers can introduce that compelling, newly evidence of intentional prosecutorial misconduct we spoke of earlier --- seven pages of notes typed by Sorensen on Jan. 28, 2010. That's the day Sorensen and Detective Drew Snyder interviewed Gallagher, along with Gallagher's parents, at the D.A.'s office. The interview took place right after Snyder had bailed that ne'er-do-well Danny Gallagher out of jail, so the D.A. could audition the third-rate conman for a starring role in their witch hunt they were about to stage against the monsignor and the church.

Sorensen has previously contended that she took no notes on that initial interview of Gallagher. Over the years, on three different occasions, in front of three different judges, in three different courtrooms, Sorensen and other prosecutors in the D.A.'s office have contended that Sorensen's notes from that initial interview didn't exist. And that the only notes from the interview with Gallagher were three pages of notes typed up by Detective Snyder.

Eight years later, in March, seven pages of typed notes by Sorensen from that initial interview with Gallagher mysteriously reappeared, a copy of which was graciously sent to BigTrial. But those notes were discovered after the appeal to the Superior Court, so the judges that wrote today's opinions never saw them.

Defense lawyers say those notes should have been turned over at two previous criminal trials, where three priests and a former schoolteacher were sent to jail for the alleged repeated rapes of Danny Gallagher. The notes are the latest evidence of prosecutorial misconduct in a case replete with it; they also could be the death knell for the prosecution.

Meanwhile, the second issue decided by the state Superior Court today was laid out in a separate 15-page opinion. In that opinion, also written by Judge Panella, the Superior Court decided to limit the supplemental cases of sex abuse at the Msgr. Lynn retrial, which will be presented as evidence against Lynn, in addition to Danny Gallagher's fables.

At Lynn's original trial, the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, allowed the prosecution to introduce into evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before the monsignor was born, to show it was business as usual in the archdiocese to cover up sex abuse.

The 21 supplemental cases, however, were the reason why the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's original conviction in 2016. The appeals court ruled that the prejudicial effect of the supplemental cases far outweighed their evidentiary value. And that Judge Sarmina had abused her discretion by letting the prosecution essentially put Lynn on trial for the previous sins of the archdiocese against children dating back to 1948.

In hearings before the retrial of the case, Judge Gwendolyn Bright ruled that prosecutors could introduce as evidence only three supplemental cases of sex abuse. The D.A.'s office had requested that nine such cases be introduced as evidence, but today, the Superior Court upheld Judge Bright's pretrial ruling.

The supplemental cases of sex abuse allowed by Judge Bright involve three notorious clerical offenders with a total of at least 35 alleged victims between them -- Fathers Robert Brennan, Nicholas Cudemo, and Michael Bolesta.

"Because we find no error in the trial court's determination that the six excluded instances of other acts of evidence were marginally probative but highly prejudicial, we cannot find the the trial court abused its discretion excluding these instances," the Superior Court wrote in upholding Judge Bright's ruling.


  1. I wouldn't be surprised if prosecutors are just bluffing on a retrial to pressure Lynn to agree to a settlement that allows the prosecution to save face.

    If Danny Gallagher is not in PA, they may not be able to produce him at trial. He seems to be the essential witness for the prosecution's case.

    Why would Gallagher want to voluntarily return to testify to face accusations of perjury and fraud?

    Why would prosecutors want to go to trial when they know the defense may accuse the former prosecutor of perjury and hiding exculpatory evidence?

    1. Prosecutors had plenty time to settle the Lynn case and they knew they were in a hole they dug themselves to jump into the hole. The OAG knows full well that retrying Lynn is double jeopardy ten out of ten times. We with Lesser. Yet,.they are so determined to retry Lynn as if they can do it aided and abetted by willing judges who think a batter can have four strikes to be out. State Supreme Court has fucked the case up by upholding the charge against Lynn. The smart thing to be done would have Lynn finish the three months remaining on his sentence via house arrest. Yet those idiots are so determined to retry Lynn and break the law in the process.

      What should we do? Lynn's defense team should go to US District Court to intervene and block the DA and OAG FROM TRYING THE CASE. A court master could be appointed to investigate both DA and OAG and take steps to remove from office both Shapiro and Krasner.

  2. Because Larry Krasner is an ideologue, and the Catholic Church is his idea of the enemy.

  3. I dont understand the Superior Courts finding on Sorensen. How do you forget taking notes? And seven pages at that. Yet is she getting away with lying before 3 judges that no notes were taken. Where were they typed? Were they saved on the DA offices servers? How did they just re-appear? Somebody's lying...

  4. The Superior Court never saw Sorensen's notes, a point I should have mentioned. They were discovered in March, long after the appeal was made last year to the state Superior Court.

  5. Great to see Shapiro grandstanding for the release of the new Grand Jury report. But still crickets when it comes to the shenanigans of Williams, Sorenson, and Blessington.

    1. Shapiro is going to burn in hell. He's telling us that Lutherans, Baptists, Jews, Muslims, Episcopalians, etc. have no problems with sexual abuse...just Catholics, and it's only Catholics that deserve his scrutiny. All priests are latent pedophiles and should be treated as such. Celibacy is abnormal male behavior, so there is something intrinsically flawed with any Catholic man who even considers entering the priesthood.

  6. Just read a review by Margaret Lyons of the New York Times, of the new mini-series debuting on Amazon Prime Video " A Very English Scandal".Set in the 1960's and staring Hugh Grant as British politician Jeremy Thorpe,it's a true story in which he gets arrested for trying to have his former lover killed.

    In her review Margaret tells of courtroom scenes in Part 3 but two lines jumped out at me, she writes" People who know the plain truth won't acknowledge it. Admitting to a lie somehow becomes more shameful than continuing one".

    This sums up my feelings on why the truth rarely makes an appearance in a courtroom, its easier to continue on with the lies already in place, rarely does anyone admit to lying about incriminating a defendant or to have printed lies about a defendant to help condemn them even when the truth become apparent.

    1. "Admitting to a lie somehow becomes more shameful than continuing one."

      I don't think it is so much shame as you come to believe the lies, and in your mind they become the truth. Human memory is reconstructive so it is quite malleable. Gaps in our memories can be unconsciously filled to create a false memory. Memory can be manipulated by the way police or lawyers pose their questions. Juries often give too much credibility to testimony based on memory of events or conversations, resulting in wrongful convictions.

      If Mike McQueary came forward tomorrow and recanted his testimony, imagine the uproar. McQueary would be despised even more than currently. Even if he knows he lied, he has a very strong motive not to change his story and make it worse for himself.

  7. One thing I don't understand is why the Catholic Church has not sued Danny Gallagher for fraud to get their $5 million settlement back. It seems like there is ample new evidence that he lied in his depositions and testimony.

    On the Superior Court decision, I can just imagine how the judges would have acted if Gallagher had been a defense witness. I suspect they would have denounced him and the defense attorney in the strongest possible terms. I imagine they would have called for obstruction and perjury charges for them both and disbarment for the defense attorney.

    1. @Tim - I think that Chaput forked over all that dough to protect his predecessor (ordinary and auxiliary) bishops (you fill in the blanks) who called the shots in re-assigning offending priests.

      Monsignor Lynn was a scapegoat, a good soldier who took orders and who was bound by his ordination promise of 'obedience to his ordaining bishop and his successors'. Lynn apparently took this promise just as seriously as any priest would guard the secrecy of the confessional.

      Also, the Pope was coming to town around that time, so it's also possible that Vatican sources told Chaput to 'make it go away' lest the Pope be embarrassed.

      When Chaput made that exorbitant payment, IMHO he re-affirmed the guilt of Monsignor Lynn, Fathers Avery, Englehardt and Bernie Shero. He threw them under the proverbial ecclesiastical bus.

      If and when Monsignor Lynn is retried on the EWOC charge, he has a constitutional right to face his accuser, as do the others who were unjustly and unlawfully convicted, confined, impoverished and in the case of Father Engelhardt, effectively and ignominiously sentenced to death.

      Therefore, Gallagher must be subpoenaed to attend and then obligated to testify along with Walsh, Sorensen and others from the DA's office.

      Wonder if Seth can participate via video?

    2. At last report Gallagher is living in FL. From what I understand, a PA subpoena does not work in FL. I don't see why Gallagher would voluntarily return to PA where the defense would accuse him of perjury and fraud.

      Settlements are not an admission of guilt. President Trump has paid several settlements but claims he never had affairs, sexually assaulted any women or defrauded students at his Trump University.

  8. The Superior Court says: “It is not clear that the prosecution was even aware of the content of Detective Walsh's witness preparation interview,” but then concludes: “It certainly undermines the assertion that the Commonwealth intentionally withheld the content of the witness preparation interview.”

    How exactly does the lack of clarity “certainly undermine” the assertion? It seems to me that only clear evidence that the prosecution was not aware of the content of Detective Walsh's witness preparation interview could undermine the assertion that the Commonwealth intentionally withheld the content of the witness preparation interview.

    Am I missing something here?

    1. I think that is reasoned correctly. If there is no proof the prosecution knew of the witness preparation interview, then they couldn't have intentionally withheld it.

      Detective Walsh testified that he notified prosecutor Sorensen that Gallagher was not a reliable witness, and Sorensen replied that Walsh was killing her case. That testimony is very damning except that it is just hearsay.

      Sorensen's 7 pages of notes is a far different matter. They seem like solid evidence that prosecutor Sorensen lied under oath before three different judges. They also seem to indicate a Brady violation, and Sorensen knowingly putting an unreliable witness on the stand.

  9. The picture reminds me of Boston Blackie! Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men? I do!

    1. I's not familiar with Boston Blackie but I thought that was the Shadow's catchphrase - "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"

  10. The picture is of Detective Joe Friday from the old "Dragnet" TV show.

    "Just the facts, ma'am."

  11. During the 1980's and 90's, KNX radio in Los Angeles had a drama hour from 9:00 to 10:00 PM. Dragnet, Boston Blackie, Gangbusters, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Gunsmoke...classic old radio. The bad guys always got what was coming to them. ( we're going to give you a fair trial, then we're going to hang you).

    The current narratives SCREAM for Tommy the Toothless to appoint a special prosecutor to properly investigate both the PSU case and the Archdiocese case. The prosecutors in both cases (including Shapiro) are neck deep in fraud and suborned perjury. Collusion between Freeh, the NCAA, and the OAG would qualify as Extortion in a Federal Court. The DOE report was entirely based upon the Freeh report, and is one of the most poorly written documents ever to come out of a Federal Agency. It also smacks of extortion.

  12. You need to add witness tampering to the Sorenson notes and Joe Walsh's investigative file that were deliberately withheld by the Prosecutors, that being the threat given to a Detective that was actively working in the DA's office during the Engelhardt/Shero trial who was told he would be sent to the badlands for the remainder of his career if he testified as a character witness on behalf of Father Engelhardt.....and he never appeared, or he would have faced career suicide.....just another example of the deliberate and calculating prosecutorial misconduct prevalent in the DA's office under Seth Williams during those trials


  13. Is there any further news about progress in M. Lynn's case?

  14. Is there any further progress in M Lynn's case?


Thoughtful commentary welcome. Trolling, harassing, and defaming not welcome. Consistent with 47 U.S.C. 230, we have the right to delete without warning any comments we believe are obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.