Would convicted Catholic Monsignor William Lynn flee to Vatican City?

Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina delayed a decision Tuesday on whether to grant house arrest to Monsignor William Lynn following his conviction on endangering the welfare of children in the clergy sex abuse case.

A jury found Lynn guilty on one count, but not guilty on two others Friday. He is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 13 and could face between three and a half to seven years in prison under the guidelines.

Prosecutors argued that Lynn is a flight risk in light of the possible sentence, but defense attorneys disagreed, citing his age (61), the fact that he deals with high blood pressure and has shown up for every court hearing since being charged.

Sarmina delayed the ruling until a July 5 hearing, but instructed counsel to initiate the process for house arrest, which includes making sure Lynn’s home is suitable for electronic monitoring and that he understands the consequences if he were to flee. Also, in what might be unprecedented, Sarmina instructed prosecutors to determine if an extradition waiver would be honored by the Vatican in the event that Lynn fled there.

“My guess is the last place in the world he would want to be is the Vatican,” defense attorney Tom Bergstrom said after the hearing. “It’s idiotic.”

The process to set up electronic monitoring for those in custody takes about three to four weeks, court officials said, which means Lynn would only be home for about three weeks until sentencing. Yet, Bergstrom said house arrest would make it easier for attorneys to prepare their case for sentencing.

“The point is the rule of law gives him the right to bail,” he said.

Sarmina also increased Lynn’s bail from $50,000 to $100,000. He would be required to post 10 percent or $10,000, but his family previously paid $5,000 to keep him out of jail leading up to the trial.

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