Imprisoned Catholic Cleric Seeks Release to House Arrest as He Awaits Sentencing
Monsignor William Lynn was convicted on June 22 of one count of child endangerment
CNN Wire Staff
July 05, 2012(CNN) -- A judge may decide Thursday whether the highest-ranking Catholic church cleric convicted in a child abuse case should be released from detention and placed on house arrest until sentencing.
Monsignor William Lynn was convicted on June 22 of one count of child endangerment.
The landmark trial marked the first time U.S. prosecutors have charged not just the priests who allegedly committed abuses but also church leaders for failing to stop them. Lynn is the highest-ranking cleric accused of imperiling children by helping cover up sexual abuse.
Lynn's defense team argued during the trial that their client repeatedly told higher-ups about the alleged abuse and, under strict orders from the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, had no authority to remove priests from the ministry.
After the verdict, his attorneys filed a motion requesting that their client be released on house arrest pending his scheduled August 13 sentencing. He could face three-and-a-half to seven years in prison for his conviction on the third-degree felony.
Jeffrey Lindy, one of Lynn's lawyers, has criticized an earlier decision to not to let his client remain free on bond prior to sentencing, calling it "an unspeakable miscarriage of justice (for) a 61-year-old man with no prior record and long-established ties to the community."
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington vehemently opposed house arrest.
"It's absurd," Blessington said. "It would truly be an injustice to indulge these people after what they've done."
The issue was argued on June 26 in front of a packed courtroom in Philadelphia. Lynn arrived dressed in all black and without his clerical collar. He wore full clerical garb during the 50 days of the trial and 13 days of jury deliberations.
Sarmina allowed prosecutors a week to consult legal analysts and Rev. Thomas Doyle -- who was sworn in as an expert witness on Catholicism and its canon law during the trial -- to determine what, if any, steps are to be taken in the event Lynn fled to the Vatican, where there is no extradition.
She also instructed the defense to consult with their client to ensure he was aware of the consequences should he flee.
"Get the hell out of here, he's not going to the Vatican," another one of Lynn's attorneys, Thomas Bergstrom, told reporters outside of the courthouse, adding that his client is incredibly strong considering the circumstances. "That's ridiculous."
All parties are due back in court Thursday for a hearing.