US cleric sentenced in abuse case for first time

US cleric sentenced in abuse case for first time

PHILADELPHIA - The Associated Press
US cleric sentenced in abuse case for first time

Monsignor Lynn exits the courthouse after his abuse trial in Philadelphia.

A Roman Catholic monsignor of Philadelphia William Lynn, who became the first U.S. church official to be convicted for covering up sex abuse claims against priests was sentenced July 23 to three to six years in prison by a judge who said he “enabled monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children.” 

A jury convicted the 61-year-old Lynn last month of felony child endangerment for his oversight of now-defrocked priest Edward Avery, who is serving up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting an altar boy in church.

Prosecutors who spent a decade investigating sex abuse complaints kept in secret files at the archdiocese argue that Lynn and unindicted co-conspirators in the church hierarchy kept children in danger.

Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, handled priest assignments and child sexual assault complaints from 1992 to 2004. He was accused of transferring problem priests in one of the country’s largest parishes and keeping complaints out of the public eye.

“You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong,” Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said.

Lynn was the first U.S. church official convicted for his handling of abuse claims in the sex scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church for more than a decade.

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