Judge halts release of cardinal’s secret testimony

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A judge on Monday halted the release of 1,200 pages of grand jury testimony of a Roman Catholic cardinal relating to his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints in Philadelphia.

Prosecutors filed Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua’s secret testimony from 2003 to support conspiracy charges filed this year against a high-ranking church official, they said in court papers filed Friday.

Monsignor William Lynn, 60, is charged with conspiracy and child endangerment for allegedly transferring priest-predators without warning. Lynn served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, mostly under Bevilacqua.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday that Bevilacqua, the former archbishop, had testified that accused priests “would not be able to function” at new parishes if people were warned of their backgrounds.

Grand jurors found the leader of the Philadelphia archdiocese “excused and enabled” the attacks, and was “not forthright” and “untruthful” during 10 grand jury appearances over eight months, the newspaper reported.

He was not charged because the statute of limitations had run out.

Common Pleas Judge Lillian Ransom put a hold on the further release of the grand jury testimony and other documents filed Friday.

She did not immediately return a call for comment on her action Monday.

Neither side asked to have the documents sealed, and the court docket did not list any such seal.

Lynn is the only U.S. church official ever charged in the sex-abuse scandal for his administrative actions.

Four others — two priests, an ex-priest and a former teacher — are charged in the same criminal case in Philadelphia with raping boys.

The prosecution filings Friday came in response to Lynn’s motion to have the charges dismissed.

The motion will be argued at a key hearing Friday.

Defense lawyers assert that he had no children in his care and cannot therefore be charged with endangering them.

In their 65-page response, obtained by The Associated Press, prosecutors argue the charge can apply to anyone with a duty to protect the general “welfare” of children, and not just those with direct supervision of them.

The archdiocese was charged with protecting children at its schools and parishes, prosecutors
wrote.

They said Lynn and other church officials did not necessarily seek to harm children, but “knowingly put them in harm’s way.”

Lynn’s lawyers declined comment Monday, citing an ongoing gag order in the case.

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