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Attorney: D.A. 'way out of line' for criticizing reversal of church official's conviction

Monsignor William Lynn has been released from prison following conviction reversal.

District Attorney Seth Williams (Associated Press/File)
District Attorney Seth Williams (Associated Press/File)Read more

THE LAWYER representing the Catholic church official whose child-endangerment conviction was overturned last week by the state Superior Court said yesterday that District Attorney Seth Williams was "unprofessional" for criticizing the ruling and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's decision to pay his client's bail.

Thomas Bergstrom said he will send letters to the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania detailing Williams' misconduct in response to Monsignor William Lynn's case.

"I think Williams is way out of line. He's a lawyer, he's a public servant, an officer of the court. He is denigrating the court and denigrating the Archdiocese for assisting in the posting of bail for what is - at the moment - an innocent man," Bergstrom told the Daily News.

"The court has reversed his conviction and sentence. I don't get what Williams is doing," said Bergstrom, adding, "He should shut his mouth."

Lynn, 62, was released yesterday morning from the State Correctional Institution at Waymart in northeast Pennsylvania. City sheriffs transported him by van to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road, where a private firm under contract to the city was to pick him up and take him to be fitted with an electronic-monitoring device, Bergstrom said.

If that process was not completed and Lynn released from custody yesterday, it should be done by today, said Bergstrom, who declined to say where Lynn would be living in Philadelphia while he is on bail.

Lynn, the Archdiocese's secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, was convicted of child endangerment in 2012 for his oversight of now-defrocked priest Edward Avery, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexually assaulting an altar boy in the late 1990s.

The jury heard testimony that Lynn moved pedophile priests like Avery from parish to parish, which allowed them to sexually assault their young victims.

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who sentenced Lynn to three to six years in state prison, set his bail at $250,000 last week following the Superior Court's ruling.

In its ruling, the court found that the state child-endangerment law on the books at the time of Lynn's conviction did not apply to him because he was not a parent or guardian of children.

Williams, during a Monday news conference, called that ruling "disappointing and puzzling," and said he would appeal.

"I can say with confidence that the way the Superior Court panel read this law is not how this law is supposed to work," he said. The following day, Williams said it was "disgusting" that the Archdiocese paid the bail money to free Lynn, who had served 18 months of his sentence.

Of Bergstrom's criticism, William said: "Let's get back to the real issue here. There is no dispute that William Lynn endangered countless children by exposing them to known abusers. Not even the defense disputes that, nor did the appeals court.

"The only dispute is that we believe that's a crime and the criminal deserves to be punished," he said.