Philly Priest Gets Three to Six Years in Abuse Case


The District Attorney’s Office today charged four people with sexually assaulting two young boys over the course of several years. Three priests — 68 year old Edward Avery, 64 year old Charles Engelhardt, and 47 year old James Brennan — and a parochial school teacher, 48 year old Bernard Shero, were all charged with rape, […]

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PHILADELPHIA, PA (CNN) — The highest-ranking Catholic Church cleric charged and convicted in the landmark Philadelphia child sexual abuse trial was sentenced to three to six years in prison Tuesday.

Monsignor William Lynn, 61, was found guilty in June of one count of child endangerment, the first time a U.S. church leader has been convicted of such a charge.

He was given just under the maximum sentence he faced, which was three-and-a-half to seven years in prison for his conviction on the third-degree felony.

The trial marked the first time U.S. prosecutors have charged not just the priests who allegedly committed abuses but also church leaders for failing to stop them. Lynn is the highest-ranking cleric accused of covering up allegations of molestation and rape against priests by transferring them to unwitting parishes.

He was found not guilty on a second count of endangerment and on a charge of conspiring to protect a priest accused of abuse.

Lynn’s defense team argued during the trial that their client repeatedly told higher-ups about the alleged abuse and, under strict orders from the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, had no authority to remove priests from the ministry.

The same jury that convicted Lynn was unable to bring a verdict against his co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, who was accused of the attempted rape of a 14-year-old.

The Philadelphia district attorney’s office announced Monday it will retry Brennan. He is due in court for a status hearing August 14.

“James Brennan used his position as a priest to prey upon and victimize” a young man, District Attorney Seth Williams said in a written statement. “It is extremely important that Brennan be held accountable for his crime, not just for his victim but for all victims of sexual abuse.”

Defense attorney William Brennan, who is not related to his client, said he is “disappointed” and “perplexed” by the district attorney’s decision to retry the case against the reverend.

“They took their best shot. Enough is enough,” Brennan said. “Oftentimes we hear about justice for the victims. But what about justice for Father Brennan?”

A Philadelphia judge had ordered Lynn to remain in jail until the sentencing despite a request by his legal team that he be placed under house arrest.

CNN’s Sarah Hoye contributed to this report

By Sarah Hoye

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