Documents provide new details in Philadelphia’s Catholic sexual abuse case

Court documents filed in a priest abuse case say a high-ranking member of the Philadelphia Archdiocese lied to a man who said he had been raped by a priest, telling him the priest denied the allegations when in fact he had admitted guilt.  Monsignor William Lynn, who was in charge of investigating abuse allegations, is accused of child endangerment and conspiracy for helping transfer priests accused of sexual abuse to new parishes.  The documents show Lynn testified that the only way he would consider allegations to be proven was an admission by the priest or if the clergy member was diagnosed with a sexual disorder by a psychiatrist.  Frank Cervone is the Executive Director of the Support Center for Child Advocates.”We know from public testimony and grand jury reports that church administration was very concerned about embarrassment to the individual priests and embarrassment to the church institution and so they made decisions about conducting inquiries on their own, internally,” said Cervone.Cervone also served on a Child Welfare Review Panel that made reform recommendations for Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services.  “There is a heightened awareness among caregivers about the duty to report because of the phenomena that kids are being abused and the fact that administrators might not be moving forward with those cases and those reports,” said Cervone.  “Child abuse always lives in the shadows of our lives.  And the crisis in the Catholic church has brought light into many of those shadows.”Monsignor William Lynn is one of five defendants–including three priests and a parochial school teacher–who are accused of abusing kids or failing to prevent abuse by others.Lawyers have filed half a dozen lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on behalf of survivors of clergy abuse.  

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal