News & Politics

Priest/Sex Abuse Scandal Takes Startling Turn: Catholic Church Official Faces Criminal Charges for Coverup


The Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal veered into uncharted waters Thursday with the indictment of one of former Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua’s top aides. Monsignor William Lynn, now 60, is accused of shielding molester priests from detection and transferring them to unsuspecting parishes.

As the Philadelphia Daily News notes:

It’s believed to be the first time a high-ranking Catholic official has been accused of being criminally accountable for covering up priest abuse. . . .As Bevilacqua’s secretary for clergy, he was the Archdiocese’s personnel director and responsible for investigating reports of priest sexual abuse from 1992 until 2004.

Lynn was one one of four priests charged yesterday in Philly. The three others, plus a sixth-grade teacher at a Catholic school, were charged with actually raping and sexually assaulting the same boy.

But it’s the indictment of Lynn for allegedly endangering the welfare of a child that breaks new ground in a scandal that broke nationally a decade ago. Everywhere else, including New York, high Church officials have escaped criminal prosecution. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, hailed the stunning news:

This news may mean that finally one of the hundreds of complicit Catholic officials who have hidden or are hiding clergy sex crimes might be brought to justice.

Best succinct story on this may be on, but the full report of the grand jury is really a blockbuster — Chapter Four of the lengthy report is titled “How Msgr. Lynn Endangered Children.”

The jurors were on the verge of indicting former Philly archdiocese head Cardinal Bevilacqua, who’s old and ailing.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 11, 2011

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