The highest-ranking US church official to be convicted of covering up child sex allegations, Monsignor William Lynn, has been sentenced to three to six years in prison.
Lynn, whose job it was to investigate reports of abuse in the archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, was found guilty last month of one count of child endangerment.
Defence lawyers had pushed for Lynn to be spared prison, but Judge Teresa Sarmina on Tuesday imposed close to the maximum sentence of between three-and-a-half and seven years.
“It was three to six years,” an official at the court in Philadelphia told AFP news agency by telephone, confirming the tough sentence.
Lynn, 61, who took the witness stand for three days during his 10-week trial, was not charged with molesting children, but rather with covering up the crimes of priests who did.
He argued that he may have been out of his depth, but had never acted criminally. Victims’ groups hailed the verdict as a major step forward as a court had acknowledged that someone in Lynn’s position had endangered a child.
The trial, the first in the US involving such a senior official in the Catholic Church, also centered on two more Philadelphia priests.
Reverend James Brennan, who was suspended from his duties as a priest, stood accused of attempting to rape a teenaged boy in the 1990s. The jury was hung over the charges dealing with Brennan, who will not face a new trial.
Defrocked priest Edward Avery pleaded guilty on the eve of trial. Avery was sentenced to between 2.5 and five years in prison. During the trial the court heard graphic testimony describing sexual abuse in the Philadelphia archdiocese.