Defense begins in landmark priest sex-abuse case

The defense in the landmark priest sex-abuse trial began their case today by calling a former Archdiocese official who testified that Monsignor William Lynn was not the sole authority in transferring predator priests.

Lynn is accused of protecting the Catholic Church over victims of sexual abuse by transferring alleged abusers. Also on trial is Rev. James Brennan, accused of attempted sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy at his West Chester home.

Monsignor Joseph Garvin, former Secretary for Catholic Human Services, was the first defense witness after following eight weeks of testimony from priests, alleged victims and investigators called by prosecutors. Garvin testified that Lynn could recommend a transfer for priests, but the ultimate decision was made by the cardinal.

One of Lynn’s attorneys claimed in opening arguments that Lynn’s decisions were often overruled by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

Monsignor Michael McCaulkin, who worked as Lynn’s assistant from 1994 to 1997, also took the stand. He testified that he and Lynn were part of a three-person staff responsible for investigating all abuse claims until about 2002 when four separate offices were created in response to the sex-abuse allegations that rocked the Boston Archdiocese.

Lynn is the first Catholic church official in the U.S. criminally charged for failing to take action against alleged sex abuse.

The trial is expected to last a few more weeks.

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