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August 22, 2015

Archdiocese of Philadelphia settles high-profile sexual abuse lawsuit

Settlement reached in landmark child-endangerment case against church

A lawsuit brought against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the first child-endangerment case against a church official, was settled earlier this week after the high-profile case exposed decades of clergy sexual abuse in the region.

The case was brought by a 26-year-old male identified in court documents as "Billy Doe," who accused two Catholic priests and a teacher of molesting him at a northeast Philadelphia parish in the 1990s. All of those on charged were convicted, notably including Monsignor William J. Lynn, who failed to supervise a pedophile priest who assaulted a then-10-year-old alter boy in 1999.

According to the Longview News Journal, the case was settled on terms that were not disclosed, the third agreement made between the church and accusers this year.

Monsignor Lynn, 64, is serving a three- to six-year term as he appeals his conviction. He was ordered back behind bars in late April after Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina revoked his bail.

The victim told grand jurors in the landmark 2011 case that he was sexually assaulted regularly by three men at St. Jerome's Parish, a traumatic experience that he said produced years of torment, drug abuse, behavioral problems, and suicide attempts.

The Reverend Charles Engelhardt and English teacher Bernard Shero were both convicted in the case, while a third abuser, Edward V. Avery, was sentenced to five years in jail after pleading guilty in 2012. Englehardt died in prison while appealing his conviction. Despite recanting his confession, Avery remains in prison. All three remain parties to the suit, which will go to trial in November.