CNN's Sarah Hoye reports that Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina rejected the defense's motion to dismiss the two counts against Monsignor William Lynn of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. That sustains the possibility that if Lynn is convicted that would encourage others to file charges against officials in dioceses throughout the U.S.
This is the first of such cases. Until now prosecution was limited to the priests who had allegedly abused children. With the Lynn trial, in which jurors are being selected, a superior's actions are being reviewed. Lynn is accused of two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. For about 12 years he had been assigned responsibility for investigating suspicion of the sexual abuse.
The defense filed the motion for dismissal based on newly found documents of a 1994 memo which ordered destroyed a list of 35 priests who might have been involved with sexual abuse. Lynn's lawyers contended that document proved he had informed his superiors of what was supposedly going on. Judge Sarmina responded that there was no legal basis to toss the case. The prosecutors went a step further and declared the document actually constituted a "smoking gun."
Should a jury convict Lynn, his maximum sentence could be 12 years. He's now 60. Monsignors, bishops, and cardinals throughout the U.S. are watching this case closely. So are victims of the abuse and their supporters. One of the most enduring global brands Roman Catholicism could collapse in the U.S. if many other officials are brought to trial. The legal expenses alone would do it in.