Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty on Friday of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, making him the highest-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic official convicted in the church child sex abuse scandal.
The jury acquitted Lynn, who oversaw hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, on two other counts.
The jury deliberated 13 days before reaching a decision in the trial of Lynn, 61, who for 12 years served as secretary of the clergy. Lynn faces up to seven years in prison on the child endangerment conviction.
He was accused of conspiracy and child endangerment in what prosecutors said was an effort to cover up child sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes.
The jury began deliberating earlier this month after hearing 10 weeks of testimony in a trial that re-focused attention on the broader sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, costing billions in settlements, driving prominent U.S. dioceses into bankruptcy and testing the faith of Roman Catholics.
In this case, Lynn’s job was supervising 800 priests, including investigating sex abuse claims, from 1992 to 2004, in the nation’s sixth largest Archdiocese, with 1.5 million members.
At the trial, prosecutors argued that Lynn chose to protect the church at the expense of children, in an effort to avoid scandal and potential loss of financial support for the church,
The defense said Lynn tried to address cases of pedophile priests, compiling a list in 1994 of 35 accused predators and writing memos to suggest treatment and suspensions.
He was hampered because he could merely make recommendations to his boss, the head of the Archdiocese, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, the defense said. Bevilacqua died in January at age 88.