Victim advocates take anger over Lynn decision to church
Under a steady rain Sunday, Judy and Chuck Miller took up spots that have often been occupied by child-abuse victim advocates: the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
Judy Miller leads the Delaware branch of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a group that hosted regular protests after the 2011 grand jury report about clergy sex-abuse in Philadelphia.
Her return Sunday was prompted by last week’s Superior Court ruling that overturned the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the central figure in the case.
“In my humble opinion, he was certainly guilty,” Miller, 74, said as she and her husband handed leaflets to attendees at the Mass.
Theirs was not the only protest planned.
Another victim advocate, Robert M. Hoatson, said he and others would demonstrate Monday outside the Criminal Justice Center, where Lynn’s lawyers will ask a judge to free him on bail.
“For some reason, the abusers and their enablers continue to get off the hook while the victims suffer,” said Hoatson, 61, a former Catholic priest from West Orange, N.J., and president of the victim support group Road to Recovery Inc.
Lynn, 62, was the archdiocesan secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. Prosecutors say he let a priest with a history of abuse live at a Northeast Philadelphia parish, enabling that priest to assault an altar boy.
The Superior Court on Thursday reversed Lynn’s conviction for child endangerment, finding that prosecutors and the trial judge who presided over Lynn’s 2012 case had misapplied the law.
The panel said Lynn should not have been charged with endangering the welfare of children because the law until 2007 applied only to people who were guardians or who directly supervised children.
But Chuck Miller, 76, called Lynn “responsible for those children who were molested as a result of the assignments he made.”
The couple urged people leaving Mass to press Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to keep Lynn from ministry and to back District Attorney Seth Williams’ decision to appeal the ruling.
The Millers found few supporters among the crowd. “Their anger should be at the court, not the church,” said one woman who accepted the handbill but who declined to give her name. “People are celebrating love and families and peace. I feel like they are directing their anger toward people who are attending Mass.”