PHILADELPHIA — A Roman Catholic church official who won an appeal of his landmark conviction in a priest-abuse scandal in Pennsylvania left prison on Thursday after 18 months behind bars.
Monsignor William Lynn left the state prison in Waymart, prison spokeswoman Terri Fazio said, and was taken by the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office to a city jail, where he was to be fitted with an electronic monitoring device.
He will then be released, probably to the custody of a family member, one of his lawyers said.
Lynn, 62, was the first US church official charged for hiding complaints that priests were molesting children. He was the point person for those complaints in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004.
Prosecutors charged him with felony child endangerment. But the appeals court said the law that existed at the time didn’t cover people who don’t directly supervise children. Lynn’s lawyers had made that argument before his 2011 indictment, but Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina sent the case to trial.
The Philadelphia archdiocese has been in the crosshairs of prosecutors since 2002, when the priest-abuse scandal broke in Boston. Lynn, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, and other church officials — accompanied by lawyers — were grilled by an earlier grand jury that issued a damning report in 2005 but concluded that no charges could be filed.
Prosecutors tried again under District Attorney Seth Williams, who charged three priests with new sexual assault allegations in 2011 and Lynn with protecting the accused predators by hiding complaints in secret files.
Lynn, at his July 2012 sentencing, told Sarmina he tried his best to address the festering sex-abuse problem. After his release, he remains a priest in good standing.