As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 27, 2013 Msgr. William Lynn who was serving a three to six year jail term for child-endangerment was released on a technicality. The Superior Court panel, a Pennsylvania appellate court, held that the endangerment law in existence at the time Lynn permitted and enabled child abuser priests to remain in positions which gave them access to children, without warning to children or parents, only applied to people who directly supervised children. Even a member of Lynn’s defense team told the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 27, 2013 that “Under the new [child endangerment law enacted in 2007] there was little douubt that Lynn potentially could have been held legally responsible for the actions of other priests.”
If the Superior Court’s interpretation of the law is correct, then this shows the need for strong laws to protect children such as that enacted in 2007, as well as the importance of civil actions. In a civil action there is a lower burden of proof, preponderance of the evidence v. beyond a reasonable doubt, and there is less risk that an enabler will escape liability because of a technicality.