While much of the attention has focused on the guilty verdict in the Jerry Sandusky case, another case may have even greater long-term impact when it comes to the sexual abuse of children.
Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia, whose case I discussed before, was convicted of child endangerment because of his role in covering up abuse of children and could face 10 to 20 years in prison. He was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy. The jury was deadlocked on the rape and child endangerment charges of another priest James Brennan.
This verdict is significant for three reasons. One is because Lynn was not accused of abuse himself but of covering up the crime, and there is ground to think that a large number of senior clergy in the Catholic hierarchy are guilty of similar things. The second is that he is the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church in the US to be convicted of crimes involving abuse. The third is that the police and prosecutors seem to have overcome at least partially their ‘respect for religion’ nonsense and reluctance to treat religious leaders, especially high ranking ones, the way they treat other suspected criminals. The slowness of the Brooklyn district attorney to prosecute sexual abuse cases involving Orthodox Jews in the Brooklyn Hasidic community is an example of such reluctance. Shmarya Rosenberg has been chronicling all the abuses in that community.
All these factors must be causing sleepless nights for many high ranking religious people who were involved in such cover-ups and were effectively enablers of such acts.