Partial verdict reached in Philly clergy trial

PHILADELPHIA - The jury reached a partial verdict June 22 in the clergy sex abuse trial.

Msgr. William Lynn, former archdiocesan secretary for clergy, was found guilty on one count of child endangerment and acquitted on two other charges, including conspiracy.

The jury was deadlocked on charges against Father James J. Brennan, charged with attempted rape and child endangerment for alleged abuse of a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the jury was excused by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. The trial is considered over with a mistrial on the charges against Father Brennan.

The verdicts were read on the 13th day of jury deliberations for the landmark trial, which began March 26 in the Court of Common Pleas.

Msgr. Lynn, who has not been accused of abusing any children himself, was charged with conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment for allegedly helping the church cover abuse complaints. He is the highest ranking U.S. church official to be charged with crimes related to clergy sexual abuse.

Msgr. Lynn was accused of recommending for assignment some priests who had been accused of sexual misconduct with children.

The charges were in connection to alleged sexual misconduct by Father Brennan and sexual assault by a former priest, Edward V. Avery. Before the start of the trial, Avery - who was laicized, or returned to the lay state, in 2006 - pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a minor.

Both Msgr. Lynn and Father Brennan pleaded not guilty to their charges.

On June 20, jury members said they could not agree on four of five charges in the abuse trial and were instructed by the judge to continue deliberations in order to reach a verdict.

She suggested that they rehear portions of testimony from two accusers to help them finalize their decision. She also turned down a defense request for a mistrial.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970