Msgr. William J. Lynn

Msgr. William J. Lynn

Although Msgr. William Lynn is free from prison after posting $250,000 bail on Tuesday, Aug. 2, he will be retried next year on the same charge of endangering the welfare of a child for which he was convicted and incarcerated for most of the past three years.

The former secretary for clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was arrested and charged in February of 2011, and convicted by a jury in 2012, for failing to properly supervise a now-laicized priest, Edward Avery.

Avery pleaded guilty at that time to sexually abusing a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999 at St. Jerome Parish in Northeast Philadelphia.

Msgr. Lynn, now 65, was the first high-ranking clergyman to be convicted in the United States for a crime related to the clergy sexual abuse scandal that surfaced in 2002. Locally it led to two Philadelphia grand jury reports, in 2005 and 2011, and a Pennsylvania grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in March of this year.


He served 33 months of a 36-month sentence at Waymart Correctional Facility in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He remained there even after his conviction was overturned in December 2015 by Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced Aug. 2 that he will retry Msgr. Lynn in a reprise of the landmark 2012 trial. The retrial date was set for May 2017 following a hearing in a Philadelphia court Aug. 4.

Prosecutors during the three-month trial produced a mountain of evidence from 21 cases dating back to the 1940s and showing how administrators of the Philadelphia Archdiocese reassigned priests known to have sexually abused children to numerous parishes in the archdiocese without the new pastor’s or community’s knowledge.

As secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, Msgr. Lynn carried out the clergy assignments at the behest of the archbishop of Philadelphia, including that of Avery, the only case related directly to the charges against Msgr. Lynn.

Superior Court overturned Msgr. Lynn’s conviction on the grounds that the volume of evidence at trial unfairly prejudiced the jury.

Retrial of the child endangerment charge likely will focus only on the case of Avery, who in 2013 recanted his guilty plea of abusing the young man known at the trial as “Billy Doe.”

His identity has since been revealed in a civil lawsuit as Daniel Gallagher. The credibility of the 28-year-old convicted drug dealer has been thrown into question due to the discrepancies he gave for details of his alleged abuse.

Msgr. Lynn remains free on parole and is said to be living with a family member outside of Philadelphia.