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Lawyers say priest's guilty plea a lie

Sept. 18, 2012 at 4:47 PM

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Former Philadelphia priest Edward Avery lied at his sexual assault trial to obtain a lesser sentence, lawyers for co-defendant Monsignor William J. Lynn said.

In a motion in Superior Court Monday, Lynn's lawyers said Avery lied about abusing a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999 to win a lighter sentence, and that "zealous and single-minded prosecutors" withheld information from them in an attempt to convict Lynn, the first church official charged with enabling abuse.

Avery was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison after he admitted the sexual assault, and Lynn was convicted of endangerment for allowing Avery to reside within the boy's parish, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

Lynn's lawyers said they learned recently Avery gave prosecutors a statement and took a polygraph test in which he denied knowing the victim.

If Avery did not know the victim, Lynn could not have endangered him, the lawyers argue.

"At the very least, knowledge of this information would have affected the tactical decisions" of the defense, lawyers Thomas Bergstrom, Allison Khaskelis and Alan Tauber wrote in their brief.

Tasha Jamerson, spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams, said Williams' office would not comment until it filed its response with the court.

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