PHILADELPHIA — A Roman Catholic official convicted of child endangerment will remain behind bars until his sentencing later this month, a judge ruled Thursday, denying a defense request for house arrest.
Monsignor William Lynn has been in custody since a jury convicted him June 22 of the charge, which stemmed from his handling of sex abuse claims at the Philadelphia archdiocese.
Lynn, 61, is the first U.S. Catholic church official convicted in the cover-up of child sex-abuse complaints. He faces 3 1/2 to seven years in prison.
"After due consideration, the motion is denied," Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who presided over Lynn's three-month jury trial, said at the brief hearing that was packed with the monsignor's friends and family. She did approve a defense request to move up Lynn's sentencing date from Aug. 13 to July 24.
Lynn's lawyers said a relative offered to have the cleric stay at her Philadelphia home until his sentencing.
"He's not going anywhere. He's not going to flee," defense attorney William Bergstrom told the judge.
The judge sided with prosecutor Patrick Blessington, who expressed concerns that Lynn was a flight risk and argued that the monsignor should be treated like anyone else convicted of a crime.
After 13 days of deliberations, jurors concluded that prosecutors failed to prove Lynn was part of a conspiracy to shuffle predator priests from parish to parish. The jury did, however, find that Lynn endangered the 10-year-old victim of defrocked priest Edward Avery, who pleaded guilty before trial to a 1999 sexual assault.
Lynn had deemed Avery "guilty" of an earlier complaint and helped steer him into an inpatient treatment program run by the archdiocese. But the jury concluded that Lynn knew the priest later was sent to live in a Philadelphia parish, where the altar boy was assaulted.
A national support group for sexual abuse victims praised the judge's decision to keep Lynn in prison.
"Some may view this decision as harsh. We consider it just and smart," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "And we hope it will help end current cover-ups and deter future cover-ups by Catholic officials across the country."
Lynn served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, mostly under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in January.
The jury deadlocked on charges against Lynn's co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, who was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1999. Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to retry him.
Rev. Robert Van Handel
FILE - This undated file image provided by State of California Department of Justice shows former priest and convicted sex offender, Robert Van Handel, who was molested as a student at St Anthony's seminary school and then returned there as a priest where he molested boys in the choir. (AP Photo/California Department of Justice, File)
Monsignor William Lynn
FILE - In a Tuesday, March 27, 2012 file photo, Monsignor William Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center, in Philadelphia. Lynn, accused of moving predator-priests to unwitting parishes, testified Wednesday, May 23, 2012 that he had no authority to make priest transfers. Lynn says he could only remove a priest who admitted abusing a minor. Lynn says he otherwise made recommendations for the cardinal. Lynn is testifying in the ninth week of his child-endangerment and conspiracy trial. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Rev. James Brennan
The Rev. James Brennan allegedly molested a 14-year-old boy in 1996. The accuser testified in court that the sexual abuse led to drug addition, mental illness, crime and suicide attempts.
Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua
The late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to destroy a list with the names of priests accused of sexual abuse, according to church documents revealed during the trial of Philadelphia's Monsignor William Lynn.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2012, file photo, Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to the press after prayer services at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed Wednesday, May 30, 2012, that it had a policy to pay suspected pedophile priests to leave the ministry. The policy was crafted under Dolan when he was Archbishop in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)
Ex-Priest John Fiala
This Nov. 18, 2010 photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff's Department shows John Fiala. Fiala, a former Roman Catholic priest charged with sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2008 in his rural Texas parish is now accused of plotting the alleged victim's murder, authorities said. Fiala was found guilty of the plot in May of 2012. (AP Photo/Dallas County Sheriff's Department)