Trial begins for Catholic church official charged with reassigning abusive priests

The landmark trial of a Roman Catholic Church official is set to begin in Philadelphia Monday. It will turn a new page in the court battle in the cases of Monsignor William Lynn and the Rev. James Brennan.

Lynn, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is the first U.S. church official charged criminally for his administrative actions. He’s accused of child endangerment and conspiracy for allegedly transferring priests accused of sexual abuse to unsuspecting parishes.

Eyes across the country are focused on the Philadelphia case, says Patrick Wall, a former Catholic priest. Wall now works as a consultant for a law firm that has filed suits on behalf of those sexually abused as children.

“You have not just the element of the abuse, but you have the whole element of bringing the officials to justice,” Wall said last week.

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Last week, a defrocked priest pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a child — prompting defense lawyers to request a new jury because, they argue, current jury likely heard something about the plea.

Edward Avery will serve up to five years after admitting he assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999. He has not agreed to cooperate.

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