A Roman Catholic church official was convicted Friday of child endangerment but acquitted of conspiracy in a groundbreaking clergy-abuse trial, becoming the first U.S. church official convicted of a crime for how he handled abuse claims.
Monsignor William Lynn helped the archdiocese keep predators in ministry, and the public in the dark, by telling parishes their priest was being removed for health reasons and then sending the men to unsuspecting churches, prosecutors said.
Lynn, 61, had faced about 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted of all three counts he faced — conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment. He was convicted on one of the endangerment counts, leaving him with the possibility of up to seven years in prison.
The jury began deliberating earlier this month after hearing 10 weeks of testimony in a trial that re-focused attention on the broader sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, costing billions in settlements, driving prominent U.S. dioceses into bankruptcy and testing the faith of Roman Catholics.
In this case, Lynn’s job was supervising 800 priests, including investigating sex abuse claims, from 1992 to 2004, in the nation’s sixth largest Archdiocese, with 1.5 million members.
Lynn was on trial with Rev. James Brennan. Brennan, 49, was charged with the attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy in 1996, along with child endangerment.
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