December 30, 2013: After a disappointing and puzzling ruling by the Superior Court, Judge Teresa M. Sarmina decided to grant bail to William Lynn today. While the fight to currently keep him in prison may be over, the battle to get him back behind bars has just begun.
“I want to first state officially and on the record my dismay with the Superior Court’s ruling last week,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Let’s be clear William Lynn is no patsy, he is no fall guy. He is a cold, calculating man who endangering the welfare of countless children for decades by moving known predators throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
“One of those pedophile priests is Edward Avery,” continued the District Attorney. “This is a man who was moved from parish to parish after touching and molesting young boys. Avery was a continuing threat to young Catholic boys and this threat was protected and facilitated over the years by one person, and one person alone- William Lynn.”
The evidence at trial showed that Lynn concealed, deceived, and misled parishioners. He methodically and deliberately distributed dangerous pedophiles around the Delaware Valley like time bombs. He sent these known predators as wolves in sheep’s clothing to new unsuspecting parishes. He told former parishioners that the priests, who were never identified as pedophiles, left due to health concerns. There was never any warning about the danger to parents or their kids. On the contrary, Lynn’s plan was active concealment and obfuscation. So the next victims would not know what hit them.
Edward Avery, who was defrocked in 2006 because of his serial and destructive abuse of children, pleaded guilty to raping a 10 year old boy at St. Jerome’s Parish from 1998 until 1999. A place that he was allowed to live at, even though numerous doctors said he should never be around children, because of the direct actions of William Lynn.
A panel of the Superior Court said that Lynn was just a “funnel for information.” That’s not what the evidence said. That’s not what Lynn’s own testimony said. Lynn was no patsy. Lynn was no fall guy. Lynn’s own testimony was that protecting kids from pedophile priests was not just his job; it was his number one job. He was the “point man” on this mission – his words. Lynn actually boasted that by his individual efforts he improved the way the Archdiocese went about protecting kids.
That was a lie. The evidence at trial showed that Lynn concealed, deceived, and misled parishioners. He methodically and deliberately distributed dangerous pedophiles around the Delaware Valley like so many time bombs. He sent these known predators as wolves in sheep’s clothing to new unsuspecting parishes. He told former parishioners that the priests, who were never identified as pedophiles, left due to health concerns. There was never any warning about the danger to kids. So that the next victims would not know what hit them.
The evidence showed that Lynn did this over and over and over again. That is why what Father Avery did to the little boy in this case was no surprise, no mistake. It was inevitable. Lynn knew about the prior sexual misconduct by Father Avery of an earlier victim and knew Avery was a risk to children, just as he knew – it was his job to know — of the risk from handling many other similar cases in just the same way.
Yet one of the judges in the panel of the Superior Court that decided this case said, during the appellate argument, that Avery’s prior sexual misconduct “wasn’t so bad.”
“How can sexual abuse of a child be not so bad,” continued the Districted Attorney. “How can terrible, atrocious, criminal behavior against a vulnerable child not be “so bad”? And we are now being told that relocating pedophile priests to new parishes among unsuspecting victims without regard to the danger was not even a crime.”
“In their ruling last week the Superior Court panel said that Lynn’s actions did not endanger the welfare of children under the law. But the evidence established that Lynn did endanger the welfare of children. The law is clear and it says that endangering the welfare of children is a crime. And in fact, I can say with confidence that the way the Superior Court panel read this law is not how this law is supposed to work.”
In its landmark 1976 decision in Commonwealth v. Mack, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania said that this law — endangering the welfare of children — is to be read and applied in accordance with “the common sense of the community” and the “broad protective purposes” for which this law was made. The Supreme Court says this law, “endangering the welfare of children,” is to be applied in a common sense way to protect kids. Not in a way that hangs kids out to dry. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that this is the law. In our view, the Superior Court panel in this case did not follow the law set down by the Supreme Court.
“The verdict in this case is legally sound, and moreover it is important,” concluded District Attorney Seth Williams. “It is important to this community and it is important nationally. The inaction of William Lynn destroyed countless lives and he belongs in prison for that.”
“That is why I believe this Superior Court panel decision is more than just legally wrong. Unlike the usual legal error that just hurts parties in the case, this legal error does harm in so many ways to so many people. And that is why this office will do whatever we can to make sure this decision does not stand.”