Jury, reporting deadlock, resumes deliberations in Philadelphia church sex abuse trial

(Reuters) – The jury in the child sex abuse case of Philadelphia Monsignor William Lynn was ordered to resume deliberations on Wednesday after saying it was deadlocked on most of the charges facing the highest-ranking U.S. clergyman to stand trial in the Roman Catholic church’s pedophilia scandal.

The jury, in its 12th day of deliberations, cited its dilemma in a note to Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina that read: “We the jury are at a hung jury status on all charges except for one.”

“Please advise us as to our next step,” it said.

The judge, who read the note aloud in the courtroom, conferred with prosecutors and defense attorneys and sent the jurors back to continue trying to reach a verdict.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” the judge said to attorneys after the jury left the courtroom.

Lynn, 61, is accused of conspiracy and child endangerment. Prosecutors say in his job overseeing hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, he covered up child sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests named in the claims to unsuspecting parishes.

Also on trial is the Reverend James Brennan, accused of child endangerment and attempted rape of a 14-year-old in 1996.

The judge turned down a request for a mistrial by Brennan’s defense attorney William Brennan.

The judge offered to grant the jury its request to hear a reading of testimony from three trial witnesses, a request she had denied last week on grounds that it would take too long.

The panel wanted to hear testimony again from Brennan’s alleged victim and the alleged victim’s mother, along with another witness in the case.

The jury heard 10 weeks of testimony and began deliberating on June 1.

If convicted, Lynn faces the possibility of 21 years in prison. Prosecutors say his motive was to avoid scandal and any potential loss of donations to the archdiocese, the nation’s sixth largest with 1.5 million members.

Lynn supervised 800 priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, and was responsible for investigating claims of sexual abuse, between 1992 to 2004.

The defense said Lynn tried to handle documented cases of pedophile priests, making a list in 1994 of 35 accused predators and writing memos to suggest treatment and suspensions.

It said Lynn was hampered because he could make only recommendations to the head of the archdiocese, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in January at age 88.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Will Dunham and Jackie Frank)

[Source: Reuters]


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