Why is SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) appearing to support a brutal attack on an elderly priest accused of abuse?
On May 10, 2010, Will Lynch, then 43, used a ruse to enter a retirement home for retired priests. He then violently pummeled 65-year-old Rev. Jerold Lindner in front of shocked witnesses until the priest was bruised and bloody.
Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court (Calif.), the criminal trial against Lynch began. Prosecutors are charging Lynch with felony assault and elder abuse.
What was Lynch's motive for bludgeoning the defenseless cleric? Lynch forcefully claims that Rev. Lindner molested him and his brother during a camping trip in 1975.
Lindner has repeatedly denied abusing anyone and has never been criminally charged for abuse. However, Will Lynch and his brother received a $625,000 settlement from the priest's Jesuit order in 1998 based on the accusations. In addition, numerous others have come forward to say Lindner abused them, including family members. It also seems that even the prosecution in the current case against Lynch believes that Lindner is an abuser. (There's more; see our Nov. 2010 post.)
This entire episode is troubling indeed. While justice and compassion must be demanded for victims of clergy abuse, neither cause justifies violently thrashing an alleged abuser decades after alleged abuse has occurred.
SNAP, on the other hand, appears to be sending the message that Rev. Lindner's beating was justified. A significant number of demonstrators appeared outside the San Jose courthouse in support of Will Lynch and against Rev. Lindner. (See The San Jose Mercury News' curiously large 32-photo gallery of the first day of the trial.)
One of the many attendants in support of Will Lynch was Joey Piscitelli, the Northern California Director of SNAP. (Piscitelli, by the way, is a self-proclaimed pagan witch.) The SNAP leader addressed a small throng of newspaper, radio, and television outlets.
Why is SNAP appearing at a venue in open support for an individual who walloped a 65-year-old priest in a retirement home?
As we wrote in 2010, SNAP should condemn this brutal attack. The Lynch-Lindner trial has become a high-profile case, and SNAP's silence is notable.
Whereas SNAP often issues comments and statements about cases no matter how obscure, observers are left with with the impression that Lynch's assault on Lindner was justifiable.