Memo: Abused kids' safety ignored by Philly diocese

Monsignor William Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center, Monday, March 26, 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

(AP) PHILADELPHIA - Jurors in a clergy-abuse trial heard Tuesday about a priest who was left in ministry for years after therapists called him a manipulative pedophile and a ticking time bomb.

The evidence was presented by prosecutors in the child-endangerment trial of Monsignor William Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in Philadelphia. Prosecutors say he helped keep dangerous priest-predators in jobs where they could continue to abuse children.

Tuesday's evidence focused on the late Father Peter Dunne, who had served as a Boy Scout leader and director of a Bucks County school for delinquent boys and at one point had two young men living with him at a parish in Oxford, Pa.

The archdiocese had Dunne evaluated after an Oregon doctor complained in 1986 that he had been abused by Dunne, his former priest and Scout leader. The doctor later lost his license for molesting patients, leaving his wife and children deeply in debt, according to a 2005 grand jury report.

Therapists who evaluated Dunne warned that he had addictive sexual compulsions and should never be around children. They recommended around-the-clock supervision.

"(The psychologist) stated quite bluntly that that he feels we are sitting on a powder keg," one internal church memo said.

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The series of memos shown in court Tuesday demonstrate that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua had three concerns about the case: scandal, the good of the church and Dunne's welfare, in that order. The potential risk to children was not mentioned.

Prosecutors want to show that Lynn left Dunne and other accused predators in ministry when he became secretary for clergy in 1992 and read through secret files filled with abuse complaints.

According to the grand jury report, Bevilacqua and a private lawyer wanted Dunne cut loose from the archdiocese in 1993 because they deemed him too big a legal risk to remain in supervised ministry. Lynn allegedly disagreed, believing he needed supervision, the grand jury report said.

Lynn's defense lawyers have argued that Bevilacqua, who died in January, had the final say on how the church handled problem priests.

Dunne continued in ministry over the objections of therapists until the archdiocese let him retire — and live on his own — in 1994. He moved to a church retirement home in 2004, after the national priest-abuse scandal broke, and died in 2010.

Lynn has pleaded not guilty to child-endangerment and conspiracy charges. The Rev. James Brennan, his co-defendant, has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing a boy in 1996.

Meanwhile, a judge may rule Tuesday on whether jurors will learn that a former co-defendant, defrocked priest Edward Avery, has pleaded guilty to the 1999 sexual assault of an altar boy. She may let that in if defense lawyers question the accuser's credibility. The accuser alleges that he was also raped by another priest and his fifth-grade teacher.

Prosecutors argue that Avery — who frequently moonlighted as a disc jockey — had a 1992 abuse complaint in his secret personnel file and should not have been left in ministry. He is now in prison.