Judge, lawyers meet on Philadelphia clergy sex abuse case

By John P. Martin
Philadelphia Inquirer
May 30, 2012

Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the clergy sex-abuse trial met privately with the judge Wednesday before dispersing to prepare for their closing arguments.

The summations, scheduled to begin Thursday morning, will cap a landmark 11-week trial that has included more than 60 witnesses and the introduction of nearly 2,000 documents, many culled from secret church archives on priest misconduct.

Jurors could get the case as early as Friday.

A day after testimony ended, Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina summoned the lawyers to a back room to discuss the instructions she will give the jury before it begins deliberating the case against Msgr. William J. Lynn and the Rev. James J. Brennan.

Lynn’s lawyers have repeatedly challenged prosecutors’ decision to charge Lynn with child endangerment stemming from two incidents of alleged abuse in the 1990s. They contend that Lynn, then the secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, wasn’t covered under the law at the time because he did not directly supervise children. Sarmina has rejected that argument.

Prosecutors say Lynn, 61, the first church official accused of covering up clergy sex abuse, endangered children by allowing Brennan and another priest, Edward Avery, to receive parish assignments despite knowing or suspecting they would abuse children. Brennan has pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Avery was sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty days before the trial to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999.

Contact John P. Martin at 215-854-4774 or at Follow him @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

















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