Philly priests, church official, on trial

Feb. 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Jury selection in the trial of a former Archdiocese of Philadelphia official and two Catholic priests, which began Tuesday, could take a month, officials say.

Common Pleas Judge M. Theresa Sarmina has scheduled opening statements for March 26, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Potential jurors were summoned to the courthouse Tuesday to fill out a questionnaire, the first step in selecting a panel of 12 jurors and two alternates.

Monsignor William Lynn, who was the archdiocese's secretary for clergy in the 1990s, is charged with endangering children by reassigning priests accused of sexual molestation. His co-defendants, James J. Brennan and Edward Avery, allegedly molested the same boy at different times.

Lynn is the first church official to go on trial for covering up sexual abuse, rather than participating in it.

Last week, Sarmina rejected a motion that she remove herself from the case. Lynn's lawyers suggested she demonstrated anti-Catholic bias when she said during a January hearing: "Anybody that doesn't think there is widespread sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is living on another planet."

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