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Lawyers argue against prison for priest

July 19, 2012 at 1:01 PM   |   Comments

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PHILADELPHIA, July 19 (UPI) -- A Catholic monsignor in Philadelphia convicted of endangering children by not removing a priest who molested a boy doesn't deserve prison, his lawyers say.

Lawyers for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in a motion Thursday that Monsignor William J. Lynn poses no danger to the public and has already experienced "public scrutiny, shaming and vilification." They also note Lynn has led a life of service and that two-thirds of people convicted of the same crime in Pennsylvania since 1996 have been punished with county jail terms or less.

Lynn, 61, is to be sentenced Tuesday in Common Pleas Court. Prosecutors want him to receive the maximum sentence of seven years in prison. But Lynn's lawyers say that would be "merely cruel and unusual."

"A sentence of time-served, probation, work release or house arrest would ensure that Monsignor Lynn can still use his priestly gifts to improve the lives of those around him," lawyers Thomas Bergstrom and Jeffrey Lindy said in their filing.

Lynn, a longtime aide to Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, was secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. His duties included recommending assignments for archdiocesan priests and investigating complaints of misconduct against them.

Following a three-month trial, a jury convicted Lynn on June 22 of child endangerment for not removing the Rev. Edward Avery from active parish ministry in the 1990s after finding out Avery had once molested a teen. Avery later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy.

Lynn has been jailed since his conviction.

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