Top church official indicted in Philly abuse probe

February 14, 2011

(RNS) Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse are hailing the
indictment of a senior Roman Catholic official in the U.S. on charges of
endangering the welfare of a child for failing to remove abusive priests
from ministry.


The accusations against Monsignor William Lynn, former vicar for
clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, represent the first time a
U.S. prosecutor has brought abuse charges against a member of the
Catholic hierarchy since the church's clergy sex scandal exploded in
2002.


"This indictment will send shivers up the spines of hundreds of
chancery officials across the country," said David Clohessy, national
director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.


Three other Catholic priests and a school teacher were accused last
Thursday (Feb. 10) of raping two boys after a Philadelphia grand jury
issued a scathing, 124-page report.


Lynn was vicar for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992-2004. "The
rapist priests we accuse were well known to the Secretary of Clergy, but
he cloaked their conduct and put them in place to do it again," the
grand jury said.


Lynn denied the accusations through his attorney. If convicted, he
faces a maximum of 14 years in prison. His attorney, Tom Bergstrom, told
The Associated Press: "We certainly don't concede for a moment that he
knew he was putting children at risk."

Also last week, the vicar for
clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles resigned after the archdiocese
acknowledged a priest who had admitted to sexually abusing a teenage
girl during the 1960s was given a parish assignment in 2009.


The priest, the Rev. Martin P. O'Loghlen, had also been appointed to
the archdiocese's sexual abuse advisory board. Former Los Angeles vicar
for clergy Monsignor Michael Meyers resigned on Friday.