Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Judge Drops Blanket Of Secrecy Over Long-Running Msgr. Lynn Case

Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright
By Ralph Cipriano

The case was first tried seven years ago, and it's been litigated for a total of nine years.

There was a time when it was being monitored by the Vatican as well as covered by The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Rolling Stone.

But now that the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William J. Lynn is headed for a retrial, Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright is determined to keep everything about it a big secret.

She's slapped a gag order on the lawyers in the case, so they can't talk to the media. She's sealed pretrial motions so the public has no idea what's going on.

Even though the media, except for this outlet, has long ago lost interest in what happens to Msgr. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy, who went to jail for endangering the welfare of a child.

Today, the judge came out from her chambers, where she met in private with the lawyers on both sides, to announce another lengthy delay in a case that should have been put out of its misery years ago.

The latest delay began when Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington asked the court for a 60-day extension so he could reply to pretrial motions in the case filed by the defense back in August.

What were the pretrial motions Blessington is taking issue with? We have no idea because all of that is sealed.

What were Blessington's objections? We have no idea because the records are sealed and the lawyers in the case are under a gag order.

Why Blessington would need 60 more days to make new arguments in a case that's been going on for nine years at this point is a good question. But the judge gave Blessington a 30-day extension, which means he has to file his motions by Oct. 31.

And then, of course, the defense has 30 days to respond to Blessington's response.

The judge also announced that a two-day hearing on the pretrial motions in the case, originally scheduled for next month, has been postponed until Jan. 21st and 22nd. And that the retrial, originally scheduled for January, has been postponed until March 16th.

Msgr. Lynn has the distinction of being the only priest in the country to go to jail in the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal, not for touching a child, but for failing to prevent a known offender of a priest from abusing another child.

The case was once the proudest accomplishment of former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams, but the former altar boy turned anti-Catholic crusader is now sitting in a federal prison doing five years after he was convicted in a federal corruption trial for taking bribes and kickbacks.

The victim in the Msgr. Lynn case, an altar boy dubbed "Billy Doe, real name, Danny Gallagher, has since been revealed to be a complete fraud. Gallagher originally claimed that he was repeatedly raped by two priests and a schoolteacher. He's such an obvious liar that the D.A.'s office is expected to attempt to try the case without putting Gallagher on the stand, due to rulings by the state Supreme Court that redefined the offense Lynn originally was charged with.

Ok, so that doesn't make a lot of sense but neither does anything else about this case.

Msgr. Lynn, of course, has had his 2012 conviction twice overturned by the state Superior Court after serving 33 months out of his original 36-month sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest.

The known issues in the case, which may be the subject of pretrial motions, concern alleged prosecutorial misconduct by the district attorney's office. Three times, prosecutors have stood up in court and told three judges that when the D.A.'s office first interviewed Danny Gallagher back in 2010, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen took no notes.

And then eight years later, seven pages of Sorensen's original typed notes from her 2010 interview with Gallagher suddenly reappeared, a copy of which was graciously sent to Big Trial.

Sorensen, who is expected to be subpoenaed to testify at the hearing in January, will also be asked about the disappearance of more notes taken by social workers for the Philadelphia archdiocese back in 2009 that showed that when Gallagher first brought his allegations of abuse to the church, he didn't want to press charges or put anybody in jail; all he wanted to do was get paid.

And since this is Philadelphia, and Gallagher's enablers included the former District Attorney of Philadelphia, Gallagher the fraud eventually collected $5 million in a civil settlement from the church.

None of the social workers' notes, of course, were ever turned over to defense lawyers in the case.

So in a case where we have a fraudulent victim, as well as overwhelming evidence of prosecutorial misconduct -- not to mention a scapegoat of a defendant who has already served his sentence -- this travesty of justice rolls on.


  1. Ralph - thanks for the update. As you mention, this is the only media covering this miscarriage of justice. What about justice for Fr Englehardt? What about justice for Mr Shero? One who died handcuffed to a hospital bed and the other whose reputation was ruined because of the DA offices misconduct. Where is their justice?

    1. Frankly, nobody in the media cares. They did care when they believed Billy Doe was repeatedly raped by monsters in collars, but nobody cares if he was a fraud who was enabled by a criminal of a D.A.

      Nobody's interested in that story. The media at this point is only interested in story lines that confirm their biases.

    2. The public believes it knows the truth, they do not need any additional facts. Why would the media correct or alter or for that matter update the public who is not clamoring for the truth? Everyone is satisfied that justice has been served, they read in the paper. Case closed.

      I have very little regard for journalists who can not correct a fact to at least make the public aware that there could have been an error or in this case another invented crime. The media in general but especially our paper of record works for the prosecution. I was told that a person only needs to read something four times before they believe it. As this case had an abundant amount of articles condemning the defendants, it would be very hard to convince the public otherwise.

      I believe because I know the prosecution uses the media to condemn defendants. I used to live in fairytale land, believing what I read, believing in the justice department, believing that journalists got it right. While the defendant ultimately suffers the consequences for a journalists lack of courage or insight, everyone suffers, not just the defendant sitting in jail, everyone suffers.

  2. The case is clearly a double jeopardy case and any qualified judge would have granted a motion to dismiss to the defense. DA Krasner could have negotiated a plea of time served to kill the case but he didn't do it. Judge Bright is one of three female judges who have propped alive a very useless case on the docket by denying motions to dismiss from defense attorneys.

    It is time to put the case to sleep permanently and to ensure Judges Sarmantic, Crisper and Bright retire from the bench.

    1. I heard somewhere that Sarmina had retired and that she was spending time riding her horse. I think her horse's name is Mr. Ed, Sarmina's probable ghost writer.

      Ceisler - she's off to better and bigger things on the Commonwealth Court.

      As for (not so) Bright - who knows??

      Father Englehardt could not be reached for comment.

  3. The truth will set us free. They have Destroyed Msgr. Lynn's career, who by now should have been a Pastor or even higher. Don't worry, Msgr., God is on your side

  4. Hang in there, Msgr. Lynn, God is on your side.

  5. Is anyone else tired of reading about Krasner's Conviction Integrity Unit? Its time for Ms. Cummings to get off her derriere and deal with her own office's Sorenson & Blessington and their failure to "share" evidence with Fr Englehardt and Mr Shero's defense. Its well documented - why not acted on?

    1. If we had a real newspaper in this town - much of this travesty would not have taken place.

      What a bunch of dishonest wimps at the Inky! It's almost as if they have been paid off by the prosecution and the judiciary.

  6. They certainly have dropped the ball on this one. But when your all committed social justice warriors, there's only one approved way to approach any sex abuse story involving the Catholic Church. It's the victims, and the prosecution, that are infallible.

  7. We need to know what is going on. What news have you got re this trial?


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.