Monthly Archives: December 2013

Appellate Court Frees Catholic Official Jailed for Coverup of Child Abuse

Monsignor William Lynn’s child abuse coverup conviction reversed on appeal
The Raw Story

On Thursday, a three-judge appeals panel freed Monsignor William Lynn, the only cleric jailed for shielding child sexual abusers in recent years. The appeals court reversed his conviction finding that the child endangerment law under which he was convicted applies only to parents and direct caregivers, not to those in administrative or supervisory roles.

Lynn was overseeing the clergy and fielding child abuse complaints for the Archdiocese of Pennsylvania from 1992 to 2004. He was convicted for keeping complaints private and reassigning priests to different parishes rather than reporting them, punishing them, and/or keeping them from contact with children.

Church reform and child protection advocates were shocked and saddened by the decision, many issuing statements of disappointment. “We’re heartsick,” said Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests. “We felt that this conviction sent a very strong message that if you protect predators, you would be punished. We hoped it would cause other prosecutors to go after other people protecting pedophiles. We thought it was a trend, a start.”

In light of the recent ruling, there appears to be a deficiency in the legal structure. As a practical matter, coverup is critical in allowing abuse to happen and continue. As a society, by legally permitting abuse to go on, we are indirectly sending a message that we sanction the behaviors.

I suggest that this is wrong. I suggest that we need stronger child protection laws, that we should recognize the damaging nature of child abuse to individuals and to society, and that we should take a stand against it. By permitting those who knowingly shield abusers to go free, by failing to have effective laws on the books that would proscribe such conduct, we are not only failing to protect our innocents, we are also failing our own selves.

You can find more information on this topic in this article: Monsignor William Lynn Conviction Reversed, Raising Questions About Justice System, Huffington Post, Jan. 27, 2013.

Penn State Officials Set to Appear in Court on Arguments Seeking Dismissal

Penn State officials charged with coverup of Sandusky abuse allegations
AP Photos

Three Penn State officials, accused of covering up child abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky, are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for a pretrial hearing before Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The three include former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, former vice-president for business and finance Gary Schultz, and former President Graham Spanier. Criminal charges were first filed two years ago against Curley and Schultz and last year against Spanier.

They are charged with perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to properly report suspected child abuse. Among other things, they are charged with knowing about sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky and failing to report them.

On Tuesday, the court will hear the defendants’ arguments that charges against them should be dismissed based on compromised representation by counsel during grand jury investigations. While they were accompanied to investigations by the University’s Chief Counsel Cynthia Baldwin, they have raised questions about her impartiality and conflicts, since she was representing the University. In fact, she cooperated with investigators and later testified against the three defendants, providing information that was used against them in the grand jury report.

These defendants have made these Baldwin-related arguments in a sealed appeal to the State Supreme Court, which declined to take up the appeal, indicating that the arguments could be made before Judge Hoover.

See also article at New Haven Register, Penn State ex-officials, accused of cover-up, set for court, Dec. 14, 2013, Associated Press.