SAN JOSE, Calif., June 20 (UPI) -- The lawyer for a California man accused of beating a priest who allegedly sexually abused him said Wednesday his client had to take matters into his own hands.
Opening arguments began Wednesday in San Jose, Calif., in the trial of Will Lynch, accused of pummeling Jerold Lindner, a Jesuit priest Lynch claims molested him and his brother 35 years ago during a religious group's summer camp, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Prosecutors allege Lynch, 44, beat Lindner, 65, whom the Jesuits acknowledged is on a list of molesters living at a church-affiliated retirement and medical center in Los Gatos.
Lynch allegedly struck Lindner while yelling, "Turn yourself in or I'll (expletive) come back and kill you."
Lynch's lawyer, Pat Harris, said that when Lindner failed to apologize for his alleged crimes during the May 10 confrontation, Lynch had no choice but to take matters into his own hands, the Los Gatos Patch reported. Harris also showed jurors a photograph of Lynch and his brother around the time of the alleged abuse.
Prosecutor lawyer Vicki Gemetti acknowledged the past sexual abuse Wednesday, saying Lynch acted against Lindner "who molested him over 30 years ago."
She showed a photograph of Lindner with cuts and bruises, asking jurors, "Who beat up the old man?"
"What you will learn in the course of this trial is that the defendant beat up this old man ... why did he decide to beat up this man? The evidence will show that the defendant beat this man because he [was] angry and he wanted revenge," Gemetti said.
Lynch is charged with assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and elder abuse under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm or death, the Patch reported.
Lynch told the Mercury News he opted for a trial instead of trying to reach a plea agreement because he thinks a trial is the only way of bringing to light the priest's alleged wrongdoing.
Lindner can't be prosecuted on charges he raped Lynch, who was 7 years old at the time, because the alleged molestation occurred in the 1970s and the statute of limitations had expired by the time Lynch reported it.
Some former campers say they want to witness Lindner being put on the spot, the Mercury News said.
"Jerry is still living a life of ease, with access to children who go to school in the area," one former camper said. "We're coming out of support for the family and frustration with the legal system."