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After a 12-week trial and 13 days of deliberations, shortly after 2pm today, a city jury announced that it found Msgr William Lynn -- the beleaguered archdiocese's clergy personnel chief from 1992 to 2004 -- guilty on a single count of endangering the welfare of a minor.
The charge having stemmed from a grand jury's indictment that Lynn (above) covered up the history of another priest who, on the eve of the landmark trial, pled guilty to having abused a 10 year-old boy in the late 1990s, the conviction marks the first time a church official in the English-speaking world has been criminally punished for his handling of an allegation.
Acquitted on a conspiracy count and a second child-endangerment charge, the 61 year-old Lynn was seen to be weeping as he was immediately remanded into custody pending an August sentencing. According to wire reports, the single guilty count is likely to bring a jail term of three and a half to seven years; the defendant is said to have turned down a plea bargain prior to the trial's March start.
Having built its case on thousands of damning files subpoenaed from the archdiocese's secret archive, the prosecution's case against the monsignor presented Lynn as the linchpin figure in an enduring pattern of reassigning known abusers to parishes where they were able to continue having ample access to children. By contrast, the defense relied on the testimony of the former secretary and his aides to assert that the policy was carried out on the orders of the then-archbishop, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, whose late January death at 88 came a day after he was ruled competent to testify at the trial.