After nearly three years behind bars, Msgr. William Lynn will step inside a Philadelphia courtroom on Thursday a free man facing a new trial.
A trial date will be set during the status hearing.
On Tuesday, Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright released Lynn on $250,000 bail following a brief motions hearing. Lynn posted 10 percent of that total.
Afterwards, the District Attorney’s office announced its intention to re-try Lynn, the first Catholic Church official to be convicted of covering up abuse by priests.
A week earlier, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court wiped out Lynn’s 2012 conviction and sentence on child endangerment charges. The panel affirmed a lower court’s ruling that said jurors were “prejudiced” by hearing days of evidence about clergy sex abuse unrelated to Lynn’s actions as a supervisor with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Some of it dated back to the 1940s, before Lynn was born.
Thomas Bergstrom, Lynn’s lawyer has called the evidence “poison.” He said, as far as he’s concerned, none of it should come up again at Lynn’s new trial, scheduled to start sometime next year.
Veteran prosecutor L. George Parry, who has represented sex abuse victims, agreed.
“They’d be re-plowing the same row. They’ve already lost because they used this irrelevant evidence. And if they obtained a conviction using the same irrelevant evidence I think they could very well anticipate they’re going to lose again,” said Parry.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has said that in a statement that he will use “every available legal option” to “prosecute pedophile priests and those who shield them.”
Lynn served nearly three years of a three- to six-year sentence and was slated for parole in October.
Lynn was secretary for clergy for the archdiocese from June 1992 until June 2004.In that role, Lynn supervised assignments for priests, including former priest Edward Avery, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 10-year-old altar boy at St. Jerome’s parish in 1999.
Lynn moved Avery to St. Jerome’s after allegations of sex abuse at another parish came to light years earlier, according to court documents.
Since Lynn’s trial, Bergstrom has called into question the accusor’s credibility as a witness. Following Tuesday’s hearing, Bergstrom said the now grown man admitted to lying about his past during a psychiatric evaluation. That report, he said, is admissiable as evidence during the new trial.
It’s part of why Bergstrom is confident he can win this time around, no matter what the District Attorney’s Office decides to bring into evidence.
“A lot of material came out that really challenges the credibility in terms of what happened, when it happened, where it happened, and who, if anybody committed offenses against him,” said Bergstrom.
In the same statement, D.A. Williams said there is “substantial evidence, including testimony from the defendant himself, to establish his guilt. A retrial is the right thing to do in the pursuit of justice.”