Finally, after 10 weeks of testimony and 13 days of deliberation, a partial verdict was reached in the trial of Monsignor William J Lynn and Father Patrick Brennan. Monsignor Lynn was convicted of one count of endangering a child, while the charges against Father James J Brennan, accused of child endangerment, corruption of a minor, and attempted rape, resulted in a jury deadlock. The outcome was mixed, but I agree with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Ronnie Polaneczky, that whatever the outcome, the priest sex abuse jury did their job. As did the prosecutors. The determination of the Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and his team of prosecutors may not have resulted in a sweeping conviction but it was nonetheless valuable. It put into the public mind the manner in which the church made its decisions to move priests around without worrying about impunity from outsiders, or the legal system. That is a huge change. The scope of the decades of abuse is no longer hidden and platitudes, payouts, and random apology sessions by Pope Benedict will no longer suffice as penance. I was in the courtroom for the closing arguments which highlighted the deep divides and opinions about the role of the Philadelphia hierarchy in the cases. It was patently clear that there were three other men who should have been present to answer to these charges: The “princes” of the church, Kroll, Bevilaqua, and Rigali. Their complicity in the cases of abuse in the archdiocese was on trial as well, and to this observer they were found wanting. It certainly appeared as though it was their direction that allowed these incidences to occur.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Archdiocese issued a short statement, but it will continue to pay for it for years to come. Right now, the legal fees defending Lynn and Brennan are at $11 million, with the bill expected to come in at around $14-15 million when all is tallied. In addition, there are more cases to be adjudicated and, as noted in this searing post by Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia, the case will haunt the archdiocese for sometime to come.