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Catholic church leader sentenced to prison for cover up of child sex-abuse

Monsignor William Lynn, who handled child sexual assault complaints in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, was convicted of child endangerment and sentenced to 3-to-6 years in prison. The judge said Lynn "enabled monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children."

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Monsignor William Lynn walks to the Criminal Justice Center before a scheduled verdict reading, in Philadelphia. Lynn, the Roman Catholic monsignor in a landmark case involving the sexual abuse of children by priests, will was sentenced July 24, 2012 to 3-to-6 years in prison for his felony child endangerment conviction.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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The first Roman Catholic church official in the US convicted of covering up sex-abuse claims against priests was sentenced Tuesday to three to six years in prison by a judge who said he "enabled monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children."

Monsignor William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, "helped many but also failed many" in his 36-year church career, Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said.

Lynn, who handled priest assignments and child sexual assault complaints from 1992 to 2004, was convicted last month of felony child endangerment for his oversight of now-defrocked priest Edward Avery. Avery is serving a 2½- to five-year sentence for sexually assaulting an altar boy in church in 1999.

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"I did not intend any harm to come to (Avery's victim). The fact is, my best was not good enough to stop that harm," Lynn said. "I am a parish priest. I should have stayed (one)."

Lynn's lawyers had sought probation, arguing that few Pennsylvanians serve long prison terms for child endangerment and that their client shouldn't serve more time than abusers like Avery. They plan to appeal the landmark conviction and seek bail while the lengthy appeals process unfolds.

The judge said Lynn enabled "monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children, to whom you turned a hard heart."

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