Ten years … Three grand jury reports … One trial … 11 weeks of testimony … More than 60 witnesses … A trial judge who gave so much favoritism to one side that she was actually described as "often mistaken for a member of the prosecution team." … 13 days of jury deliberations.
What were the results of the charges against the two high-profile defendants in this months-long landmark Philadelphia criminal trial? Let's look:
Msgr. William J. Lynn
- Conspiracy charge #1 (w/ ex-priest Edward Avery): Not guilty
- Conspiracy charge #2 (w/ Rev. Brennan): Dismissed, May 2012
- Endangering the welfare of a child #1 (re: Edward Avery): Guilty
- Endangering the welfare of a child #2 (re: Rev. Brennan): Not guilty
Rev. James J. Brennan
- Conspiracy charge (w/ Msgr. William J. Lynn): Dismissed, May 2012
- Attempted rape (a reduced charge): Deadlocked jury
- Endangering the welfare of a child: Deadlocked jury
In other words, of all the numerous charges sent to a jury, only one charge was returned as a guilty verdict, and it was against a senior priest who left his diocesan secretary position eight years ago.
Trumpeting Williams' flop
For well over a year, the media and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams had repeatedly insisted that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had operated a decades-long child sex conspiracy which intended for children to be abused. Yet in the end, nobody believed this whatsoever.
Predictably, the national media has trumpeted Williams' single conviction as a blockbuster headline proclaiming that Church hierarchy had finally been brought to justice. But the real story is that the jury flat-out rejected Williams' wacky claims of a "conspiracy." After millions of tax dollars were spent over the last decade, the jury merely convicted Msgr. Lynn of a single third-degree felony (which, by the way, was enabled by a fairly dubious ruling by the trial judge, Teresa Sarmina).
Post-trial hysteria: False facts and false attacks
In addition, Church-bashers were so frenetic following the announcement of the single successful verdict that clear thinking was abandoned.
- The New York Times: The Times actually misreported the verdict! The paper relayed that the jury "deadlocked" on two of the charges against Msgr. Lynn, when, of course, the jury returned "not guilty" verdicts. (See a screenshot.)
- SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests): In a mean-spirited media statement after the verdict, Peter Isely, the group's nasty Midwest Director, reached another low for the anti-Catholic group by tagging Rev. Brennan as a "serial child molester." In fact, no other person except Mark Bukowski (the accuser in the trial) has come forward to accuse the priest of abuse. This is "despite a massive search by law enforcement authorities and the archdiocese [that] included articles in area newspapers, television ads, and 10,000 letters mailed to former parishioners and children formerly supervised by Father Brennan." Isely's statement was simply a cruel smear.
- Judge Teresa Sarmina and Philly Ass't D.A. Patrick Blessington: Despite Judge Sarmina's order that there would be no outbursts in the courtroom as the verdicts were returned, the unhinged prosecutor Patrick Blessington could not contain himself. Even though the jury acquitted Msgr. Lynn on two of the three charges against him, Blessington angrily demanded that Lynn be jailed immediately, actually claiming that the senior cleric was a "flight risk."
Sarmina actually conceded to this wild request, confirming how biased this judge had been all along. Her decision to immediately jail Msgr. Lynn appears nothing less than vindictive. The excellent Ralph Cipriano has since reported:
"[T]he judge, who favored the prosecution with just about every ruling before and during the trial, appeared anxious to see the monsignor in a jump suit."
Outside the courthouse after the trial, one of Lynn's attorneys, Jeffrey Lindy, told the media:
"You are going to have to look a long, long, long time to find a 61-year-old defendant convicted of a third-degree felony with no prior record, with community ties, who is remanded. You will have to scour the city's archives to see if you can find one other person in his situation."
While abuse victims may feel some justifiable comfort and satisfaction in the one guilty verdict against Msgr. Lynn, the high-profile Philadelphia clergy abuse trial ended with a whimper, not a bang.
Don't let the media fool you.