Philadelphia priest ordered to return to prison after bail hearing

Philadelphia — Msgr. William Lynn was ordered to return to jail Friday after a hearing that recalled elements of the landmark 2012 trial that resulted in his conviction on a child endangerment charge.

Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina revoked bail for Lynn, remanding him to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia.

The priest, who had served as secretary for clergy of the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, was serving a three- to six-year sentence at Waymart State Prison for endangering the welfare of a child when his conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in December 2013.

He had been released on bail and living under house arrest since.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision April 27, leading to the hearing on whether Lynn should remain free.

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The priest's conviction was the first in the United States of a high-ranking church official in the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Sarmina was the same judge who presided over Lynn's trial in 2012. Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, as he did during the trial three years ago, squared off again with Thomas Bergstrom, a defense attorney.

Blessington argued that the priest's bail should be revoked and that he be returned to prison to complete his sentence.

Bergstrom maintained, as he did during the trial, that Lynn should not be convicted retroactively under a 2007 amendment to a 1995 child endangerment law. Lynn has held his position overseeing priests of the archdiocese through 2004.

That argument formed the basis of the priest's defense. The 2012 trial jury said the law did apply to him, the Superior Court said the law did not, and the Supreme Court held that it did.

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