By Father Gordon J. MacRae
A bizarre twist in the case of Philadelphia Msgr. William Lynn raises a troubling specter of wrongful conviction and trophy justice for some accused priests.
It’s NOT always sunny in Philadelphia. The story of the imprisonment of Monsignor William Lynn darkens a gathering cloud of injustice over a city called America’s Cradle of Liberty. It’s a story of “trophy justice,” an ominous term for anyone concerned with due process and freedom from tyranny.
Trophy justice skirts the fine line between prosecution and persecution. It’s the sort of “justice” that can evolve when a defendant’s prosecution doesn’t just right a perceived wrong, but also helps enhance a prosecutor’s career, or public profile, or ego. The term describes what the now disgraced and disbarred rogue prosecutor, Mike Nifong tried to inflict upon three young college students as I wrote in “Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Lessons from a Duke University Sex Scandal.”
The lesson was lost on Philadelphia. The conviction and imprisonment of Monsignor William Lynn on a single count of child endangerment may well be a case of trophy justice. It remains a gross debasement of due process...
Now comes Ralph Cipriano, a veteran reporter who in the 1990s was religion reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was recruited by The Beasley Firm to blog about the case of “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William J. Lynn, et al.” Mr. Cipriano is one of 30 journalists accredited by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office to cover this important case. The result is the Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog. The title of Ralph Cipriano’s September 17 post on that blog leaves nothing to the imagination:
“Defense: Secret Polygraph Test Indicates Father Avery Never Assaulted 10-Year-Old Altar Boy, So Monsignor Lynn Was Convicted of a Crime That Never Happened...”