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August 02, 2016

Philly district attorney says he'll retry newly-freed Monsignor Lynn

If convicted, the priest would go back to jail for no more than three months, the remainder of his sentence

On the day that Msgr. William J. Lynn got out of jail, District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced he would retry the priest for allegedly endangering the welfare of children.

Today, Lynn’s sister and brother-in-law showed up at the State Correctional Institute at Waymart, in Northeast Pennsylvania, where Lynn has served 33 months out of his minimum 36-month sentence, to pick up the monsignor and drive him to their home in Reading.

About 145 miles south of the prison, at the Criminal Justice Center in Center City Philadelphia, Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright set bail at 10 percent of $250,000 for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s former secretary for clergy, while he awaits a retrial next year.

Lynn’s lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, said the district attorney’s decision will waste taxpayers' money, and doesn’t make much sense from a legal standpoint.

“He’s hell-bent to retry the case,” Bergstrom said of Williams. “For some reason, he continues to want to beat on [Lynn].”

If Lynn is convicted again, Bergstrom said, with a shrug of his shoulders, the worst that could possibly happen is that a judge might send Lynn back to jail to serve the remaining three months of his sentence.

The district attorney, in a written statement, said he was concerned about bigger issues.

“A retrial is the right thing to do in the pursuit of justice,” Williams wrote. “My office takes the charges of institutional sex abuse extremely seriously. I will continue to use every available legal option at my disposal to prosecute pedophile priests and those who shield them to the fullest extent of the law.”

That statement set off Bergstrom.

“He’s such a dirty, rotten liar,” Bergstrom said about Williams. “It’s just totally outrageous.”

The Rev. Edward V. Avery, the abusive priest in the Lynn case who was transferred to a new parish and subsequently accused of raping a 10-year-old altar boy, was never diagnosed as a pedophile, Bergstrom said. While pedophiles usually go after children generally age 11 or younger, Avery was previously accused of fondling a 15-year old.

Bergstrom also said the district attorney knows that only Lynn’s superior, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, had the power to transfer priests or discipline them.

A spokesman for Williams did not respond to a request for comment.

At an impromptu press conference outside the Criminal Justice Center, Bergstrom was asked whether anyone should believe that the alleged victim in the Lynn case, former altar boy Danny Gallagher, had ever been sexually abused by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

“I don’t think so,” Bergstrom said. With the TV cameras rolling, and microphones in his face, Bergstrom said he had recently read with great interest a report written by Dr. Stephen Mechanick. The forensic psychiatrist examined Gallagher in October 2015 for nearly three hours, and gave him a personality test known as the “Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory Test.”

In his report, Mechanick described Gallagher as “paranoid,” “manipulative and self-serving,” “hedonistic,” “impulsive,” as well as displaying symptoms of a “delusional disorder.”

In that report, Bergstrom said, the psychiatrist stated that he informed Gallagher of his patient confidentiality rights and that Gallagher waived them. That means the psychiatrist’s report, which stated that Gallagher admitted he had lied to his former medical providers, as well as provided “conflicting and unreliable information” about his alleged abuse, as well as his past history, would be admissible in a criminal trial, Bergstrom said. And if it isn’t, Bergstrom said, he would call Dr. Mechanick as a witness.

At the bail hearing before Bright, Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo argued that Lynn should not be allowed to be directly released today from prison, but should have to wait for a Philadelphia sheriff’s deputy to drive up to Waymart, and transport the monsignor back to Philadelphia for processing.

Allowing Lynn to be released from Waymart today would be an “unusual exception,” unlike the usual procedures followed for other prisoners, the assistant district attorney argued.

“But he’s not like any other prisoner,” Bergstrom said. Lynn’s conviction has been overturned, he’s already served most of his sentence, and he’s already been granted parole.

After a brief argument, the judge sided with Bergstrom, clearing the way for Lynn to be released directly from Waymart.

When asked about a retrial, Bright told the lawyers in the case that she has a heavy schedule, and that any retrial would have to take place sometime next year.