PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Roman Catholic church official who was jailed for more than a year for his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints had his landmark conviction reversed and was ordered released Thursday.
A three-judge Superior Court panel unanimously rejected prosecution arguments Monsignor William Lynn, the first U.S. church official ever charged or convicted for the handling of clergy-abuse complaints, was legally responsible for an abused boy’s welfare in the late 1990s.
“He’s been in prison 18 months for a crime he didn’t commit and couldn’t commit under the law,” said his attorney, Thomas Bergstrom. “It’s incredible what happened to this man.”
Lynn, 62, is serving a three- to six-year prison sentence after his child-endangerment conviction last year. His lawyers hoped for his immediate release Thursday from the state prison in Waymart, but the appeals court denied the request, instead sending the bail issue back to the trial court.
Prosecutors vowed to oppose bail and to challenge the 43-page opinion.
“Because we will be appealing, the conviction still stands for now, and the defendant cannot be lawfully released until the end of the process,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement.