Defense lawyers in the Philadelphia priest-abuse trial began their turn today. After weeks of court proceedings – including emotional testimony from an alleged victim – the defense is presenting its side to the jury.
Monsignor William Lynn is accused of endangering children by helping transfer priests accused of sexual abuse to unsuspecting parishes. He served as secretary for clergy under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and defense lawyers argued that decisions about transferring priests were up to the Cardinal — not Lynn. In his role investigating alleged abuse, prosecutors have argued that Lynn was a piece of a larger conspiracy within the church hierarchy. Prosecutors have also claimed that Lynn and other Church officials valued money and protecting the Church from scandal, over protecting parishioners.Lynn’s lawyers have claimed that he encouraged priests to get treatment, but that he simply didn’t have the power to remove them.Before Bevilacqua’s recent death he gave a videotaped deposition but it is not clear if the testimony will be played at trial. Defense lawyers have not said if they plan to call Lynn to the stand. Lynn is the first U.S. church official to be charged in a child sex abuse case for his administrative actions. For that reason, this trial is being watched closely from around the country.