Judge takes no action at priest abuse hearing

The five men facing criminal charges related to alleged sexual abuse by Catholic clergy appeared in a Philadelphia court today.  The Grand Jury report accused a monsignor, three priests and a parochial school teacher of abusing kids or failing to prevent abuse by others.  The judge agreed to give the defense lawyers until next week to respond to conspiracy charges that were filed by the prosecution on Friday.  Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos says the evidence shows there was an agreement, “A policy in place: that the Church’s first priority was not to do its duty to the students of the Archdiocesan schools, but first to protect the Church’s name,” Manos said.  “It was a conspiracy of silence and acquiescence to ensure that the Church’s reputation and to avoid scandal.”Lawyer Thomas Bergstrom is defending Monsignor William Lynn.  Bergstrom said the fact that he’s being paid by the Archdiocese is not a problem.”I don’t think it’s a conflict at all,”  Bergstrom said.  “It’s been straight up and forward and there’s no doubt about the Archdiocese paying our legal fees.  I think it’s quite proper in this case.  But we’ll deal with it and if they have a reason to think there is, presumably they’ll put it in writing, we’ll respond, the judge will make a decision.” Monsignor Lynn is accused of failing to stop alleged abusers from having future contact with children.  At the time, Lynn held a powerful job in the Archdiocese.A small group of protesters from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests stood outside before and after the hearing.  Barbara Dorris, the Outreach Director for SNAP, says donors to the Church expect it to help the poor and educate children–not pay for defense attorneys.

The lawyers and the defendants are expected back in court next week.

Thomas A. Bergstrom

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