Judge M. Teresa Sarmina today set bail at $250,000 for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former high-ranking administrator in the Philadelphia archdiocese, whose conviction in a clergy sex-abuse scandal was overturned last week by the state Superior Court.
The Superior Court on Dec. 26 reversed Lynn's June 2012 conviction in trial court and said he should be released from prison "forthwith."
Sarmina, the trial judge in the case, ruled today that Lynn could be freed if he posted 10 percent of $250,000 bail, agreed to wear an electronic-monitoring device and surrendered his passport. Lynn already has served 18 months of a three-to-six year sentence.
Lynn's attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, had argued that his client's bail should be $50,000, the same amount as when he was on trial in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia. The district attorney's office argued for no bail.
After the court hearing, District Attorney Seth Williams announced he had decided to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.
"While the fight to currently keep him in prison may be over, the battle to get him back behind bars has just begun," Williams said in a press release.
Lynn, former secretary for clergy for the archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, was the first Catholic administrator in the country to go to jail for the sexual sins of the clergy; not for touching a child, but for failing to rein in the predator priests he supervised.
The Superior Court confirmed what a grand jury and a former district attorney had decided back in 2005 — before Williams became D.A. and reversed course: That under the law, Lynn should have never been charged with the crime that sent him to jail, namely endangering the welfare of a child. The state's 1972 child-endangerment law originally applied only to adults who had direct contact with children, such as parents, guardians or teachers. Lynn never met the alleged victim in this case. The law has since been amended to include supervisors such as Lynn.
But the Superior Court did not let Lynn off the hook completely for his role in the church scandal. The appellate judges said there was ample evidence that he "prioritized the Archdiocese's reputation over the safety of potential victims."
Williams' office pounded away on that theme, saying "the evidence at trial showed Lynn concealed, deceived and misled parishioners. He methodically and deliberately distributed dangerous pedophiles around the Delaware Valley like time bombs."
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