Priest’s conviction overturned

A priest who found himself at the heart of a major child abuse probe in America has had his child endangerment conviction overturned on appeal.

Monsignor William Lynn, 62, a former secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was convicted in June 2012 for his role in reassigning an abusive priest, Fr Edward Avery, to a new parish without disclosing the cleric’s past abuse. A court accepted that the act put children at risk and handed down a three-to-six year sentence on Msgr Lynn. In his diocesan role, from 1992 to 2004, Msgr Lynn had direct responsibility for investigating abusive priests. His conviction saw him become the most senior Church official held accountable in a court of law at the time in relation to the child abuse.


Now, however, the monsignor’s lawyer has successfully argued that Lynn committed no crime as the legislation making supervisors of abusers culpable was enacted in 2007 and therefore is not retrospective, while safeguarding legislation dating from 1972 requires, for conviction, that Msgr Lynn be the supervisor of the young victim at the time of the abuse, which he was not.

The Philadelphia District Attorney has said he will appeal Monsignor Lynn’s release.