A Philadelphia judge has ordered a Roman Catholic church official back to prison.
Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina sent Monsignor William Lynn, convicted in a clergy sex-abuse case, back to finish his sentence. But Lynn’s attorney is expected to fight for his release.
After a three-month trial in 2012, Lynn was sentenced to up to six years in prison over his handling of complaints about priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Prosecutors say Lynn endangered a former altar boy by not protecting him from a sexually abusive priest in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Lynn’s attorneys have steadfastly maintained his innocence, arguing that he never knew the victim, nor could he confirm that priests he oversaw were abusing children.
But prosecutors said, at least in one instance, Lynn allowed a priest to take a new role in the church that involved children, despite awareness of claims that the priest engaged in inappropriate contact with young boys.
It was the first instance of a senior church official in the U.S. being indicted for covering up sexual abuse.
After a year and a half behind bars, Lynn was released on house arrest when an appeals court reversed his conviction.
The state’s Superior Court agreed with Lynn’s attorneys, who argued that Pennsylvania’s child-endangerment law didn’t include supervisors until after his conviction. Sarmina ordered the house arrest and required Lynn to wear an ankle bracelet. In addition, Lynn was required to report every week to a court officer.
On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court reaffirmed Lynn’s conviction and the original sentence.
Attorney Tom Bergstrom says he will fight Sarmina’s Thursday ruling refusing to grant a stay allowing Lynn to stay out of prison.
“We’re not going to surrender to this. Let me tell you right now. She’s been wrong before, she’s wrong again, and we’re gonna prove she’s wrong again,” Bergstrom said.
Bergstrom plans on filing a motion to Superior Court for Lynn’s release and to further object to the conviction from the 2012 trial.
In the meantime, the 64-year-old Lynn is back in prison.
Before his charges, Lynne was responsible for investigating abuse complaints made against priests.