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Jesuit Priest Beaten to Avenge Alleged 1975 Sex Abuse, Say Calif. Cops

William Lynch (Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office)
California Man William Lynch Arrested After Assaulting Priest Who Allegedly Molested Him
William Lynch (AP/Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CBS/AP) A California man who allegedly attacked a former Jesuit priest to avenge decades of suffering due to being sexually abused was arrested Friday.

William Lynch, 43, is accused of luring Rev. Jerold Lindner to the lobby of a Jesuit retirement home May 10, and beating him in front of shocked witnesses, authorities said.

Lynch, who for years harbored a fantasy of confronting the priest, who also allegedly molested his little brother, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon for the attack that sent the 65-year-old clergyman to the hospital with bruises and lacerations.

According to Sgt. Rick Sung, Santa Clara County sheriff's spokesman, Lynch launched himself at the priest after Lindner failed to recognize him as one of the several children he allegedly molested.

"They're saying it was pretty close to beating him to death," defense attorney Pat Harris told The Associated Press. "They're essentially saying that he waited all these years and then took out his revenge. It's sort of the ultimate revenge story."

Lynch and his younger brother, who were 7 and 5 at the time of the alleged abuse, had settled the score with the Jesuits of the California Province, a Roman Catholic religious order, to the tune of $625,000 in 1998.

The Lynch brothers claimed that Lindner had raped them and forced them to have oral sex with each other while he watched during a camping trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1975, Harris said.

As a result of the abuse, Lynch claimed that he battled nightmares, alcoholism and depression, and on two difference occasions had attempted suicide.

"Many times I thought of driving down to LA and confronting Father Jerry. I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me," Lynch told the newspaper. "You can't put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life."

Although Lindner denied molesting the Lynch boys, he has been accused of abusing nearly a dozen other people, including his own sister and nieces and nephews.  He was removed from the ministry and placed in the retirement home in 2001where he cares for 75 retired and invalid priests.

Lynch was to be released on $25,000 bail and is expected to plead not guilty at his arraignment sometime next month.