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Jury hung on most charges in Phila. clergy sex abuse trial, deliberations resume

Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, in Philadelphia. Lynn is the first Roman Catholic church official in the U.S. ever charged with child endangerment, for allegedly keeping co-defendants former priest Edward V. Avery and the Rev. James J. Brennan, and other accused predators, in ministry. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, Wednesday, June 20, 2012.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - The jury in a groundbreaking clergy sex abuse trial involving high-ranking Roman Catholic official Monsignor William Lynn resumed deliberations Wednesday, after announcing they were hung up on four of the five charges.

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina instructed the jurors to keep trying and offered to let them rehear portions of testimony from two accusers if it would help them reach consensus. The jury, deliberating Wednesday for a 12th day, had asked for that evidence last week.

The judge's offer led lawyer William Brennan to move for a mistrial on behalf of his client, the Rev. James Brennan. The lawyer argued that she was pointing them to a portion of the case.

"You've in effect made yourself a 13th juror," argued Brennan, who is not related to his client.

Sarmina countered that they had previously asked for the help, and denied his motion.

Monsignor William Lynn is the first U.S. church official charged with crimes for his handling of clergy sex abuse complaints.

Lynn, 61, served as secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1992 to 2004.

He is charged with conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment for allegedly helping the Roman Catholic Church cover up abuse complaints. He faces up to 21 years in prison if convicted.

Rev. Brennan, 48, is charged with attempted rape and child endangerment for his alleged abuse of a 14-year-old boy during an overnight stay at the priest's apartment in 1996.

Another priest, the Rev. Edward Avery, pleaded guilty to sexual assault before trial and is in prison. Lynn is charged with endangering Avery's victim and Brennan's accuser.

Judge Sarmina acknowledged Wednesday that it could take days to rehear the testimony from those two young men, but she said that might be better than the alternative.

She reminded the jury that the case may have to be retried if they deadlock and told them to make one last attempt to return a verdict. She asked them to deliberate with open minds but also said they should not surrender their individual opinions to reach an agreement.

More on Crimesider
March 27, 2012: Memos show Philadelphia parish misled about pastor's "health leave" for sex therapy
March 23, 2012 - In surprise move, Philly priest pleads guilty in sex abuse case

  • Crimesider Staff

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