Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Monsignor William Lynn Sentenced: 3-6 Years in State Prison

We were all captivated by the first trial of a senior clergy member who was accused of enabling the abuse of children. The trial went on for three months, and the jury deliberated for weeks. Now Monsignor William Lynn has been sentenced.

Judge Teresa Sarmina told Lynn that he knew what was right but "chose wrong" when sentencing him to three to six years in state prison, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The sentence is just short of the maximum that was requested by prosecutors, and far over the probation or county jail term that defense attorneys had requested.

Lynn's attorneys plan to appeal the conviction based on the fact that Lynn retired in 2004, but the statute under which he was convicted was revised to include supervisors in 2007, according to the Philadelphia Tribune. But before that will happen, Lynn will have to deal with his current sentence.

So how was that sentence determined?

Sentencing only happens after a person has been convicted. A sentence is determined solely by a judge, except for in certain states where a jury will decide if the death penalty is proper.

The judge usually considers multiple elements when deciding on a sentence. In a complex case like this one, a judge will request statements from both parties, sometimes hear victim testimony, and obtain a report from the probation department.

Once the judge has obtained all the statements and reports, they balance the weight of the crime, the nature of the crime, the actions of the defendant, and the number of prior offenses, among others, to determine a sentence.

Judges use Pennsylvania state sentencing guidelines to assist in this process. The sentencing guidelines point to the minimum recommended sentence, but are not requirements. The maximum penalty however, is a requirement that a judge cannot exceed.

Here, the jurors convicted Lynn of child endangerment where there was a court of conduct endangering the welfare of a child, which is a third degree felony. A third degree felony has a maximum penalty of seven years in state prison and a minimum (with no prior offenses) of nine months in county jail.

Therefore, the judge clearly took into consideration the effects on the victim and potential victims that were not reported, along with the statements of the prosecution, to reach the sentence handed down to Lynn.

Now that Monsignor William Lynn has been sentenced, we can wait and see if William Brennan will be convicted or not in his new trial.

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