Abuse trial may open window on church
High-ranking priest charged in sex cases
PHILADELPHIA | A landmark sexabuse trial opening Monday in Philadelphia may unveil the operations of a Roman Catholic archdiocese and detail how children’s complaints were buried for decades in secret archives next to a soaring cathedral as the priests they named went unpunished.
Monsignor William Lynn is the first U.S. church official ever charged with endangering children by failure to oust accused predators from ministry. But he may not be the last.
Philadelphia prosecutors say he helped carry out “an archdiocesanwide policy . . . [that] was criminal in nature.” And they have hinted that they could charge others when the trial ends.
Civil lawyers believe the trial will help them refile priest-abuse lawsuits that were thrown out in Pennsylvania because of legal time limits, or persuade the state legislature to open a window for filing child sex-abuse claims.
“The evidence that has come out about the conspiracy and the cover-up and the level of officialdom involved in it is going to help us,” said lawyer Jay Abramowitch, whose priest-abuse lawsuit involving 18 accusers was thrown out by the state Supreme Court in 2005.
Also on trial is the Rev. James J. Brennan who, like Father Lynn, has pleaded not guilty. Last week, a third man facing trial, defrocked priest Edward Avery, 69, pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to 21/ to five years in prison and ordered to surrender within 10 days.
Father Lynn, 61, remains the focal point of the trial because he was the secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004.
Father Lynn argues that he prepared a list of 37 accused priests in 1994, and sent it to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua — only for Bevilacqua to have it shredded. The cardinal died this year, but his videotaped deposition could be played at trial.
The trial will be followed by concerned Catholics across the country, including some who say their lives were destroyed.
“It gives me hope that it’s going to raise public awareness, and it’s going to expose the church — what they knew, when they knew it,” said Art Baselice Jr. of Mantua, N.J., a retired Philadelphia homicide detective.
His son, Arthur III, overdosed in 2006, after his civil suit accusing a Philadelphia priest of abuse was thrown out.
Father Lynn faces two counts each of conspiracy and child endangerment and up to 28 years in prison if convicted.
Four others — two priests, a former priest and a Catholic school teacher — were charged with rape. The report involves just two accusers. One man says he was passed around by two priests, including then-father Avery, and his Catholic school teacher in 1998 and 1999.
“When Mass was ended, Fr. Avery took the fifth-grader into the sacristy, turned on the music, and ordered him to perform a ‘striptease’ for him . .. When they were both naked, the priest had the boy sit on his lap and kissed his neck and back, while saying to him that God loved him,” the report alleges, followed by oral sex and penetration.
Defense attorneys plan to attack accusers’ motives, arguing that they are out for money or hope to explain away their troubled lives. Both accusers have criminal records and a history of drug addiction.
One of the world’s largest defense contractors, Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp., agreed Friday to pay $15.8 million to the U.S. government to settle allegations that it mischarged perishable tools used on numerous contracts, the Justice Department said.
The settlement, announced by Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery, who heads the department’s civil division, resolves accusations arising from a pricing scheme by Tools & Metals Inc. (TMI), a subcontractor that sold perishable tools to Lockheed Martin Corp. for use on military aircraft, including the F-22 and the F-35 fighter jets.
Mr. Delery said the accusations were based specifically on TMI’S inflation of the costs of the tools between 1998 and 2005, which Lockheed Martin then passed on to the U.S. under its various contracts with the government.
In March 2006, Todd B. Loftis, a former TMI president, was sentenced in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, to 87 months in prison and ordered to pay $20 million in restitution after his December 2005 guilty plea in connection with his role in the scheme.
Loftis had waived an indictment and pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging conspiracy to defraud the government with false and fraudulent claims. He admitted that from 1998 through 2004, as president and chief operating officer at TMI, he, along with others, conspired to defraud the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics by obtaining payments from both through false and fraudulent billings.
In 1998, TMI, acting through Loftis, obtained a sole-source integrated supply contract with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics to supply all of Lockheed’s perishable tools for the manufacture of airplanes including the Defense Department’s F-16, F-22 and other military needs in Fort Worth, San Diego and Marietta, Ga.
Perishable tools are the drill bits, router bits and other small tools that are used in the manufacturing process.
In order to cover up this activity, the government said, Loftis and others under his direction created false invoices using a computer scanner to remove actual pricing data and substitute f ictitious data to give the appearance of legitimate pricing. Loftis was able to control the audit sample of invoices as well so as to limit the possibility that a fraudulently priced part would be found. After the audits, Loftis ordered the fraudulently created documents and computer files to be destroyed.
TMI and Loftis realized approximately $20 million in profits on these fraudulent sales to the government, prosecutors said.
“It is troubling that a large defense contractor with long-established contractual ties with the United States failed to undertake appropriate measures to ensure the integrity and validity of the costs it submitted to the United States,” Mr. Delery said.
The federal government brought civil claims against Lockheed Martin under the False Claims Act, accusing the firm of contributing to the inflated amounts paid by the government by failing to adequately oversee TMI’S charging practices and by mishandling information revealing these practices.
The case was jointly handled by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, the Contract Integrity Offices of the Departments of the Air Force and the Navy, the Defense Contract Management Agency, the Justice Department Civil Division and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas.
Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia (center) goes on trial Monday charged with endangering children by failing to remove accused predators from ministry. The Rev. James J. Brennan (right) also goes on trial while former priest Edward V. Avery (left) pleaded guilty last week to sex-abuse charges.