Three Philadelphia area priests and an area school teacher were charged with the sexual abuse of minor boys in their care yesterday while a former official with the Archdiocese was criminally charged with allowing the priests continued access to the children. The charges against the official are unprecedented as it is reportedly the first time that a Catholic leader has been charged criminally for the cover-up of abuse as opposed to the abusive acts themselves. The underlying abuse was allegedly perpetrated by two priests from the St. Jerome Parish from 1998 to 1999 and a teacher at the school in 2000. Another priest has been accused of sexually assaulting a different 14 year old boy in 1996.
The charges related to the cover-up of the sexual abuse have been levied against Monsignor William Lynn. Lynn has been formally charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the allegations. Lynn was the individual in charge of investigating reports of priest abuse within the Philadelphia diocese from 1992 to 2004. The grand jury indictment included allegations that Lynn knowingly allowed dangerous priests to have continued contact with children. Reports indicate that the grand jury believed over 30 priests had remained within the Philadelphia ministry despite credible allegations of abuse. The priests responsible for the sexual abuse were charged with rape, indecent sexual assault and other criminal charges. Meanwhile the teacher has been accused of sodomizing an 11 year old boy. The grand jury has also recommended that the Archdiocese overhaul its procedures and policies for handling sexual abuse claims.
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