A monsignor who oversaw hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese was found guilty on Friday of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, making him the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse.
The jury acquitted Monsignor William Lynn on two other counts -- conspiracy and another charge of child endangerment -- after 10 weeks of testimony in a trial that raised questions about personal responsibility and institutional constraints within the church hierarchy.
Removing his black clerical jacket but leaving on his collar, a stoic Lynn, 61, was led out of the courtroom and into custody by deputy sheriffs as his family members wept.
"Every juror there wanted to do justice. . . . We wanted to do what was right," jury foreman Isa Logan, 35, a bank customer service representative, told reporters outside the courtroom.
Sentencing for Lynn, who faces up to 7 years in prison, was set for Aug. 13 by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.
"This is a monumental victory for the named and unnamed victims," said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. "This was about evil men who did evil things to children."
While the district attorney's office argued that Lynn should immediately be jailed, the judge said she would consider house arrest if the defense asked for it.
The jury deliberated for 13 days before reaching the mixed decision in the trial of Lynn, who, prosecutors charged, covered up child sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes.
Lawyers for Lynn said they planned to appeal the case.
"He's really upset," said one of his attorneys, Jeff Lindy. "He's upset, he's crushed. He didn't want anything other than to help kids, he's crushed about this."
Barbara Dorris, outreach director for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the verdict put the Church on notice that it can no longer "shield and protect" abusive priests and expect to get away with it.
"This is a strong message, and we're grateful for that message that kids' safety has to come first," she said.
The case against Lynn was part of a broader indictment against clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese. One of the priests, the Rev. James Brennan, was tried along with Lynn and faced charges of attempted rape and child endangerment. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the counts against Brennan.