Conspiracy count dropped in clergy-abuse trial

May 17, 2012 2:49:33 PM PDT
A Philadelphia judge has dropped one of four felony charges in the clergy-abuse trial of a Roman Catholic church official.

The ruling comes as prosecutors finished their eight-week case against Monsignor William Lynn.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington says the evidence shows the church kept priests in ministry and the public in the dark amid the complaints. He calls actions by the archdiocese "disgraceful" and "criminal."

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina has granted a defense motion to drop one conspiracy count against Lynn and his co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan.

Lynn still faces another conspiracy charge and two child-endangerment counts. Brennan is charged with attempted rape and child endangerment.

Lynn, the former secretary for clergy, is the first U.S. church official charged for his handling of abuse complaints.