TOP CLASS ACTIONS
By Joanna Szabo
March 27, 2020
Although the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal has been making headlines for years as thousands of people come forward with their own stories of abuse at the hands of priests, only one Church official has actually gone to prison as a result.
Now, that official’s retrial date has been pushed back by nearly a year due to concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Monsignor William Lynn was a secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. In 2012, Lynn went on trial for allegedly endangering children by not only concealing the crimes of priests who had been accused of child sexual abuse, but also putting them in positions of power where they would be able to continue harming more children, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2011.
Lynn was convicted of one of the two charges of child endangerment leveled against him and was acquitted of a single count of conspiracy. While all three charges would have gotten him 10 to 20 years in prison, the one child endangerment charge still left him facing three to six years in prison.
In 2015, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ordered a retrial, and he was released in August 2016 on supervised parole until his retrial.
Though the retrial was set for March 2020, it is one of the many things to have been drastically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Lynn’s retrial has now been delayed until January 2021.
The original trial lasted for four months, with twenty victims called to the witness stand. At the time, the judge concluded that Lynn’s actions and inactions had allowed “monsters in clerical garb . . . to destroy the souls of children.”
Lynn is now 69, after serving 33 months of his three to six year sentence in state prison, and in this retrial will only face a single child endangerment count.
The new trial, whenever it does eventually take place, will not dwell so heavily in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal as a whole.
“We’re not bringing in the so-called or alleged ‘sins of the Catholic Church,’” said Judge Gwendolyn Bright, the new judge for the retrial.
One of the many other things that will different about this retrial is that there may not be any victims called to witness. Most of the victims who were originally called to the witness stand now fall outside of the statute of limitations. Indeed, only one accuser—referred to as “Billy Doe” in the court files—has long been challenged on his credibility, and is considered an uncertain witness. “Doe” received a civil settlement from the Philadelphia Archdiocese and now lives in Florida, the New York Times reports.
Filing Claims Over Catholic Church Sex Abuse
A growing number of victims of childhood sex abuse are coming forward with their allegations, and many of these are within the Catholic church. Victims have made allegations against church leaders like priests and Catholic school teachers, among others, and some have also made claims against the church for covering up evidence of abuse.
If you are a victim of Catholic priest child abuse—even if that abuse occurred years or decades ago—you may be eligible to join the growing number of Catholic priest sex abuse cases and receive compensation.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill called the Child Victims Act that opened up a one-year look back window for litigation, and also expanded the statute of limitations going forward. New York survivors of sexual abuse can bring criminal charges against their abusers until the survivor turns 28, as opposed to the previous cutoff age of 23. Child sex abuse survivors also now have until the age of 55 to sue for monetary damages.
Immediately after the Child Victims Act was signed, hundreds of lawsuits had already been filed due to the newly opened statute of limitations.
On top of litigation, many Catholic dioceses have begun compensation programs for victims. Talking to an experienced attorney can help you determine the right course of action for you and your case.
Filing a lawsuit can be a daunting prospect, especially while dealing with the trauma of childhood sex abuse, so Top Class Actions has laid the groundwork for you by connecting you with an experienced attorney. Consulting an attorney can help you determine if you have a claim, navigate the complexities of litigation, and maximize your potential compensation.