Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Judge Gives Msgr. Lynn Three to Six Years In Slammer

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina told Msgr. William J. Lynn today that she was sentencing him to three to six years in state prison, because he had turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the suffering of victims of sex abuse.

"You knew full well what was right, Msgr. Lynn, but you chose wrong," she told the defendant, before imposing sentence. Lynn has been in jail since June 22, when he was convicted by a jury of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-degree felony.

The judge contrasted Lynn's recent service at St. Joseph's Church in Downingtown, where he was pastor from 2004 until his indictment in 2011, to his 12-year-tenure as secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004.

The judge said she got hundreds of "heartfelt letters of support" on behalf of Lynn, many from parishioners at St. Joseph's, who told her that Pastor Lynn would drop every thing to help someone in need. But the judge said that as secretary for clergy, Msgr. Lynn had displayed insensitivity to victims. He was either promising to do something, and doing nothing, the judge said, or he was doing his best to "callously shield the priests."

As a consequence, the judge said, Lynn allowed "monsters in clerical garb," notorious archdiocese predators such as Stanley M. Gana, and Nicholas V. Cudemo, to "destroy the souls of children" in "the most terrible way."

Monday, July 23, 2012

District Attorney To Re-Try Father Brennan

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington notified Judge M. Teresa Sarmina this morning that the Commonwealth is seeking a new trial date for Father James J. Brennan.

Father Brennan was charged with attempted rape of a 14-year-old, but the jury deadlocked on June 22, after 13 days of deliberation with an 11-1 vote to acquit the priest, according to Juror No. 7, Taleah Grimmage. The jury also deadlocked on a second charge against Father Brennan, endangering the welfare of a child. Grimmage said the jury was evenly split on the  endangerment charge.

A third charge against the priest, conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child, was thrown out by Judge Sarmina as not proven.

Father Brennan's lawyer, William J. Brennan, no relation, had pledged to defend his client if the district attorney sought a new trial. "I think it's lunacy to retry the case, with the jury split 11-1 on the attempted rape charge," Brennan said before the district attorney's office announced its decision today.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prosecutors Seek Maximum Sentence for "Cold," "Craven" and "Amoral" Monsignor

In a 29-page, scorched-earth sentencing memo, prosecutors assail Monsignor William J. Lynn as a "cold" and "craven" "yes man" who, in his position as secretary for clergy for the Philadelphia archdiocese, functioned as an "amoral" enabler of predator priests.

Although defense lawyers have tried to portray Lynn as a powerless, low-level functionary, the prosecutors in their sentencing memo brand the monsignor as a "central actor" in the archdiocese sex scandals while he served as Cardinal Bevilacqua's secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. In that job, prosecutors said, Lynn waged a 12-year campaign of "constant deceit," managing to keep both victims and parishioners in the dark, while displaying "a willingness to sacrifice anyone to please his superiors."

"Defendant's apparent lack of remorse for anyone but himself, his refusal to accept responsibility, and his failure to understand the criminality of his actions all demonstrate character in serious need of rehabilitation," prosecutors Mariana Sorensen and Patrick Blessington conclude. "A maximum sentence may be the only way to impress upon defendant that he committed a serious crime, that there are more important rules to follow than instructions from corrupt or misguided bishops, and that protection of children trumps the reputation of abusers and the institution that harbors them."

Lynn is scheduled to be sentenced at a 9 a.m. hearing Tuesday in front of Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who presided over the monsignor's ten-week trial After being convicted on June 22 of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-degree felony, Lynn faces a jail sentence of between 3 1/2 and 7 years. If the prosecution's sentencing memo is any guide, Tuesday's hearing won't be a spectacle for the faint-hearted.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Defense Lawyers Argue Judge Should Give Monsignor Minimum Sentence and Let Him Out on Bail Pending Appeal

Msgr. William J. Lynn poses "no danger to the public," his defense lawyers argue, so putting him away for a maximum prison term of seven years would amount to "cruel and unusual punishment." Lynn's defense lawyers are also asking that Lynn be freed from jail pending an appeal.

On Tuesday, Lynn will stand before Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, and be sentenced for his June 22 conviction on a third-degree felony of endangering the welfare of a child. He is facing a prison term of between 3 1/2 to 7 years. Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington has already said that the prosecution will seek the maximum sentence of seven years for Msgr. Lynn.

Lynn's defense team, however, argued in a sentencing memo filed Wednesday that Lynn has never touched a child, and that "no reported Pennsylvania case has ever dealt with a situation where an individual had been convicted of EWOC [endangering the welfare of a child] without ever knowing the child that he or she was accused of endangering."

Inside The Jury Room, Part Two

Taleah Grimmage, Juror No. 7, has finally explained why that not guilty verdict on the conspiracy charge against Msgr. Lynn left her with knots in her stomach.

Every juror believed Lynn was part of a conspiracy at the archdiocese, Juror No. 7 explained in an email posted on this website. It just wasn't the conspiracy that the prosecutors thought was there.

In subsequent emails, Grimmage elaborated on her complicated views about Msgr. Lynn. Yes he was just a "yes man," she said, but he was also the guy left holding the bag for the archdiocese.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What I Learned On Jury Duty

After 13 weeks of covering the archdiocese sex abuse trial, I was summoned for jury duty on Monday, July 9.

I reported to the first floor of the Criminal Justice Center at 8:15 a.m., figuring I would be there just for the day. Usually the court staff start laughing the minute they find out I'm a reporter, and they're still laughing when they show me the door. 

But they must have been desperate. I was shipped upstairs to Courtroom 1002, where the Hon. Judge Earl W. Trent Jr. presided. He asked a few questions about whether I thought I could be an impartial juror. I said I honestly didn't know. Well, the judge said, when you go out to report a story, aren't you supposed to be impartial? I try to be, I said. 

To my amazement, I was chosen as Juror No. 9, given an official ID badge, and told to report to court the following morning. After a lifetime of being an observer, I was suddenly in a position to have a direct impact on somebody's life. Terique Powell, 21, of Northeast Philadelphia, was facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 to 10 years in an armed robbery case. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Archbishop Chaput Visits Monsignor Lynn In Jail

Last week, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput stopped by the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia, where Msgr. William J. Lynn is being held in protective custody.

The archbishop did not bring along his mitre or his crozier. He stayed for 90 minutes. But what the two men talked about is not known.

"Archbishop Chaput did visit with Monsignor Lynn," said Kenneth A. Gavin, a spokesman for the archdiocese. "Their conversation was private."

"It is my understanding that it was a positive visit and I think that's all I should say," said Thomas A. Bergstrom, the monsignor's defense lawyer.

Inside The Jury Room

On the charge of attempted rape, the jury voted 11-1 to acquit Father James J. Brennan.

On the charge of endangering the welfare of children, Father Brennan dodged a bullet. All the jurors believed that Father Brennan had endangered the welfare of 14-year-old Mark Bukowski by allowing the boy to access pornography on the internet, and by subsequently getting in bed with him.

But because the judge's instructions required the jury to find that Father Brennan had also endangered other victims in addition to 14-year-old Mark Bukowski, the jury ended up almost evenly split on whether Father Brennan should have been convicted.

Regarding Msgr. William J. Lynn, at least one juror believed that the monsignor should also have been convicted of conspiracy.

These are some of the reflections of Taleah Grimmage, Juror No. 7.

Grimmage has sent several emails commenting on what happened behind the scenes at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse trial. Juror No. 7 also had something to say about public reaction to the verdict. Let's let Taleah speak for herself:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Judge Denies House Arrest For Monsignor Lynn

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina denied a defense motion today that would have granted house arrest to Msgr. William J. Lynn.

The judge's decision means that Lynn will continue to reside at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, known as CFCF, on State Road in Northeast Philadelphia. According to his attorney, Jeff Lindy, Lynn is in protective custody there, and leading a contemplative life.

Judge Sarmina did grant one defense request, to move up Lynn's sentencing date from Aug. 13 to July 24, provided the monsignor was willing to waive a pre-sentence report. The theory was, after Lynn has been the object of grand jury scrutiny and a decade of investigation, there was nothing new out there to be dug up by an investigator that would affect his sentence. Lynn agreed to the request.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Inside The Archdiocese Spin Machine

Today, I'd like to talk about Jay Devine, a former spokesman for the archdiocese of Philadelphia, and what an outrageous liar he is.

Devine used to work for Brian Tierney, the former mouthpiece for the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, back when His Eminence was running a criminal enterprise out of the archdiocese. According to a 2005 grand jury report, Cardinal Bevilacqua and his predecessor, Cardinal John Krol, orchestrated a systematic coverup spanning four decades that managed to successfully shield from prosecution 63 priests who had raped, molested and sexually abused hundreds of innocent children. Nice references, huh?

I have already detailed on this blog how Tierney and Devine could stoop so low as to enlist a couple of pedophile priests in their PR campaign to boost the cardinal's image. I've written about how Devine and Tierney used a pack of lies 19 years ago to cover-up Bevilacqua's embarrassing $1 million spending spree to redecorate his seaside villa, at the same time he was closing poor minority parishes and schools in North Philadelphia.

Today, I'd like to talk about how Jay Devine made an "amazingly stupid" admission to one of my editors at the Inquirer in 1998. And how I included Devine's amazingly stupid quote in a book that I wrote about my former lawyer, Jim Beasley, in 2008. And how when Devine heard this quote read on the air in 2009 by co-host Rhea Hughes on WIP, who said it the most outrageous quote in the book, Jay Devine, that outrageous liar, hired a lawyer, brazenly rewrote his amazingly stupid quote of 11 years earlier, so he could threaten to sue me for libel.

The beauty of it is I have all of this in writing. And I'm eager to share.