Former Archdiocese secretary William Lynn out on bail, as lawyers gear up for legal fight

william lynn
Msgr. William Lynn. Credit: Metro file photo

Monsignor William Lynn was released from Waymart state prison today after posting 10 percent of $250,000 bail, eighteen months after he was convicted of child endangerment.

The former secretary of clergy at the Archdiocese’s conviction was reversed by the Superior Court on Dec. 26, but he will only be out on bail until the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania acts in response to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office appeal of the reversal.

Lynn was convicted in 2012 of endangering the welfare of a child on the grounds that he knowingly assigned Father Edward Avery, a priest who had molested a boy, to St. Jerome’s Parish in Philadelphia, where he allegedly molested another boy.

However, a Pennsylvania Superior Court three-judge panel hearing Lynn’s appeal ordered him released after finding that child endangerment laws were not applicable to a supervisor like Lynn.

The state legislature changed those laws in 2007 to include supervisors. Lynn reportedly participated in assigning Avery to St. Jerome’s in 1993.

“William Lynn is no patsy, he is no fall guy,” said Philadelphia D.A. Seth William in a press release announcing his plans to appeal the reversal of Lynn’s verdict. “He is a cold, calculating man who endangering the welfare of countless children for decades by moving known predators throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

Williams claimed that Lynn was guilty of child endangerment under the logic of Supreme Court’s 1976 Commonwealth v. Mack case, which stated that child endangerment laws are “to be read and applied in accordance with ‘the common sense of the community’ and the ‘broad protective purposes’ for which the law was made.”

One of Lynn’s lawyers, Thomas Bergstrom said Mack does not apply to Lynn’s case.

“It’s really not a precedent at all,” he said. “The DA’s been wrong on all counts, on all fronts, on all arguments.”

The Mack case upheld the child endangerment statue over arguments that it was void and unconstitutional due to being too vague.

Mack was referenced in the Superior Court’s decision reversing Lynn’s appeal, and dismissing as having no bearing on the culpability of a supervisor like Lynn.

“Mack instructs that the terms of the EWOC [endangering the welfare of a child] statute are, at least to some degree, intentionally imprecise so as to encompass a wide range of conduct, commensurate to the statute’s broad, protective purpose,” the Superior Court wrote. “Nevertheless, neither this Court nor our Supreme Court has ever affirmed a conviction for EWOC where the accused was not actually engaged in the supervision of, or was responsible for supervising, the endangered child.”

Msgr. Lynn’s bail was posted in part by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, according to one of his lawyers, Thomas Bergstrom.

As part of the bail agreement set by Commonwealth Court Judge Theresa Sarmina, Lynn was required to surrender his passport, pay bail and undergo electronic bracelet tracking.

Bergstrom said that representatives of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office had picked up Lynn from Waymart state prison earlier this morning and were transporting him to Philadelphia for attachment of the electronic tracking bracelet, after which he would be freed.

According to Bergstrom, the terms of Lynn’s bail will remain in effect until the Supreme Court acts, whether to decline to hear D.A Williams’ appeal or to schedule a hearing of arguments in the appeal.

Lynn was serving a three to six year prison sentence for child endangerment.

Avery, who pled guilty to molesting a 10-year-old boy from 1998 to 1999, is serving a two-and-a-half to five year sentence.

Follow Sam Newhouse on Twitter: @scnewhouse

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Twitter: @metrophilly

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