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Judge approves $250K bail for Pa. priest

| Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, 8:18 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — A Roman Catholic official whose novel conviction in the clergy sex abuse scandal was overturned by a Pennsylvania appeals court could be freed this week, because a judge set his bail on Monday at $250,000.

Monsignor William Lynn, who's spent about 18 months in prison, would have to submit to electronic monitoring and surrender his passport.

Lynn has been serving a three- to six-year sentence for being the first U.S. church official convicted over his handling of abuse claims against other priests.

A three-judge appellate panel tossed his conviction last week, saying Lynn was tried under a child-endangerment law that didn't apply to him. On Monday, the defense lawyers asked Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to release the 62-year-old priest while prosecutors appeal.

Lynn did not attend the hearing, in which prosecutors argued that he was a flight risk. Defense lawyer Thomas Bergstrom called that contention “a fantasy.”

“There's not a chance in the world he's going to flee,” Bergstrom said.

Lynn is the former secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese, a post he held from 1992-2004, mostly under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. His three-month trial last year revealed that top officials at the archdiocese kept hundreds of abuse complaints in locked, secret archives, overseen by Lynn, rather than report them to police or parishes.

“William Lynn is no patsy. He is no fall guy,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who vowed to appeal the Superior Court decision by next month's deadline. “He is a cold, calculating man who endangered the welfare of countless children for decades by moving known predators throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

Defense lawyers have long argued that prosecutors wrongly applied a 2007 law to indict Lynn retroactively.

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