(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - A high-ranking church official accused of moving predator-priests to unwitting parishes has testified that he had no authority to make priest transfers.
Monsignor William Lynn says he could only remove a priest who admitted abusing a minor. Lynn says he otherwise made recommendations for the cardinal.
And he says Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua overturned his plan for the Rev. Edward Avery when the accused priest was returning to ministry after inpatient treatment. Avery is now in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault.
Lynn is testifying in the ninth week of his child-endangerment and conspiracy trial. His long-stoic demeanor in court has softened on the stand, and he has smiled several times.
Lynn is the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged for allegedly helping the church bury abuse complaints. Prosecutors said he failed to weed out two priests charged with sexually assaulting teen boys. One of the priests has pleaded guilty, and the other is on trial with Lynn.
Several of Lynn's colleagues have testified in his defense, saying Bevilacqua called the shots. Bevilacqua died in January, before the trial began.
Among those colleagues, Monsignor James Beisel testified on Tuesday that he was assigned to help with the child sex-abuse complaints at the Philadelphia archdiocese in the early 1990s but was "woefully unprepared" and left after a year. His fellow priests have said Lynn talked compassionately with abusers and sent accused priests for mental-health evaluations.
Prosecutors note that Beisel left the job, while Lynn stayed from 1992 to 2004, despite a similar lack of training.
Beisel says he and Lynn went through secret files at night in early 1994 to review abuse complaints and make a list of 35 suspected pedophile-priests.