A landmark criminal conviction of a Roman Catholic monsignor imprisoned for his handling of sexual-abuse allegations was overturned Thursday by a Pennsylvania appeals court.
Msgr. Lynn, who served in the Philadelphia Archdiocese as a top aide to its archbishop, could be released as early as this week, his lawyer said. He already has served 18 months of a three-to-six-year sentence after a Pennsylvania jury last year found him guilty of child endangerment for allowing a priest accused of sexual abuse to continue to have contact with children.
In overturning his conviction, the court said it "cannot dispute" that there "was more than adequate evidence" presented at trial showing that Msgr. Lynn "prioritized the Archdiocese's reputation over the safety of potential victims of sexually abusive priests."
But, the court said, that wasn't sufficient to prove that Msgr. Lynn was guilty of child endangerment or had "specific information that [the accused priest] intended or was preparing to molest...any other child."
Msgr. Lynn still faces civil suits by abuse victims who claim he should be held responsible, along with the alleged abusers. Those cases won't be affected by the court's decision, said Marci Hamilton, a lawyer representing the victims in the civil suits, and a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University. "It's a ruling on a technicality on a criminal charge," she said.
Msgr. Lynn has denied responsibility for the suffering of alleged victims in the civil suits, his lawyer said.