Recently it was announced that the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn for endangering the welfare of a child has been vacated by a Pennsylvania appeals court. Lynn, who was convicted in 2012, was serving a three-to-six year prison sentence. According to a news article at NCR Online, Lynn was the first Catholic administrator in the country to be imprisoned for failure to sufficiently supervise a sexually abusive priest.
A new trial has been ordered in the case, however in the appeals court’s decision, the judges found that the trial court “abused its discretion” in allowing evidence against the monsignor which include 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse, some dated back to three years before the defendant was even born. The original trial was overseen by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, who was blasted in the Superior Court judges’ decision.
The three-judge panel who vacated Lynn’s conviction said in its decision that, “None of the evidence concerned the actual victim in this case, and none of it directly concerned [Lynn’s] prior dealings with either of the two co-defendant’s on trial with Lynn (Father James J. Brennan and former priest Edward V. Avery).” Thomas Bergstrom, Lynn’s attorney, argued in the appeal on behalf of his client that the prosecution introduced the 21 case files to place the entire Archdiocese of Philadelphia on trial, hoping to convict his client by proxy for the sins of the entire church.
The case has been tossed around between the Superior Court and the state Supreme Court, however eventually the Superior Court won out after Lynn has spent a total of 16 months under house arrest, and 24 months in prison. Bergstrom said at the time of news reports that he did not know when Lynn would be released from the State Correctional Institute in Waymart, PA.
Any person who feels he or she has been wrongfully convicted must work with an attorney who has extensive experience in post-conviction appeals, and a proven track record for success.
If you live in Michigan and have been convicted for any crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony offense, and feel that you were wrongfully convicted or your legal rights violated in some manner, consult with a skilled Michigan criminal appeals lawyer immediately.