Defense begins in Philadelphia priest-abuse trial

Monsignor William Lynn, the Secretary for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

May 22, 2012 6:10:30 PM PDT
Msgr. William Lynn's defense opened Tuesday as experts knew they would.

Lynn's attorneys claimed the former Secretary for Clergy in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was on the low rung of the church hierarchy, a low-level manager who had to follow the orders of the archbishop, namely, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, including on matters of priests accused of pedophilia.

After two months of evidence putting the church on trial with testimony from sex abuse victims and secret files for the cardinal's eyes only, experts say the prosecution has presented a powerful case, showing the church knowingly turned a blind eye to abuse.

Legal expert Rich DeSipio has been following this case closely since the original grand jury report.

"They brought in victims of abuse," DeSipio told Action News. "So this wasn't some generic or generalized 'abuse is going on in society,' 'abuse is going on in the secret church.' They made it real. They made it specific with actual, disgusting allegations."

Lynn's lawyers say he tried to remove sexually abusive priests from positions that gave them access to children, but he lacked the power to do so.

His lawyer, Jeff Lindy, questioned Rev. Michael McCulken Tuesday.

"Who was the only person who could actually assign that accused priest and put them into inpatient treatment?" Lindy asked.

"The cardinal," McCulken replied.

"What they're going to say is that Msgr. Lynn put together a list when he found out who was abusing kids," said DeSipio, "and that he gave the cardinal that list, and the cardinal, instead of acting on it, locked it up in a safe."

Still up in the air is whether Msgr. Lynn will take the stand in his own defense. If he does not, this case could be in the jury's hands by late next week.