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In surprise move, Philly priest pleads guilty in sex abuse case

Edward Avery AP Photo/Courtesy of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, File

(CBS) PHILADELPHIA - One of the defendants in the Philadelphia priest sex abuse scandal has pleaded guilty.

According to CBS Philly, defrocked priest Edward Avery, who is accused of molesting at least one boy, unexpectedly pleaded guilty to two counts Thursday - one of sexually assaulting a boy under 13 years of age, and one of conspiring to endanger the welfare of a minor.

Avery also admitted in court that Monsignor William Lynn knew that he had sexually abused children but had nevertheless allowed him to remain in the ministry.

Avery and Lynn were both scheduled to go on trial next Monday in a case that has rocked the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with accusations of sex abuse, coverups, and stonewalling.

As part of the guilty plea, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington read a statement of facts: "Avery was aided in his efforts to remain in ministry with unsupervised access to parish children and altar servers by Lynn and others in the Archdiocese."

The statement also said, "Defendant Lynn and other Archdiocese officials acted in concert with Avery with a common purpose to conceal Avery's known acts of sexual abuse of a minor, so that Avery could remain in ministry without the knowledge of parishioners whose children would be exposed to a man that defendant Lynn and others in the Archdiocese knew presented a danger to children."

Monsignor Lynn's trial is scheduled to begin this coming Monday.

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