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Jurors hear church files on a priest’s abuse

PHILADELPHIA - A series of confidential memos outlining allegations of sexual abuse against a now-defrocked priest were read to jurors Tuesday in the landmark clergy abuse trial underway in Philadelphia.

The memos describe how the archdiocese handled the allegations lodged in the 1990s against the Rev. Stanley Gana. Prosecutors are trying to show that the archdiocese did not do enough to protect children from Gana after the charges arose.

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Monsignor William Lynn, 61, supervised more than 800 priests as the secretary for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004. He is the first US church official charged over his handling of abuse complaints.

Prosecutors charge that he kept dangerous priests in parish work around children, in an effort to protect the church’s reputation and avoid scandal. He faces up to 28 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and child endangerment.

A detective read the jurors confidential memos and other documents about Gana that dated back to 1992. The documents include reports made to the church by several young men who said they were molested by Gana for years as adolescents.

Jurors were told that Gana remained as pastor of a parish in Bridgeport, Pa., until 1995, three years after the first accusations surfaced.

After repeatedly denying his accusers’ allegations, Gana entered a Canadian treatment facility in 1996 where “he broke down . . . he admitted everything,’’ according to a note from the treatment center that was sent to Lynn and presented in court. Still, the facility concluded that Gana was not a pedophile and said his improper sexual conduct stemmed from alcohol and drug addiction.

Because he was not deemed a pedophile, Gana remained a priest. He was not removed from ministry until 2002, when the archdiocese announced a change in policy after the priest molestation scandals that were surfacing in Boston.

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