Abuse trial may open win­dow on church

High-rank­ing priest charged in sex cases

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY MARYCLAIRE DALE

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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

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.

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