PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A church official who recently won an appeal of his landmark conviction in the priest-abuse scandal was released from custody Friday, and the city's Roman Catholic archbishop defended the decision to use church funds to help with bail.
Monsignor William Lynn was staying at an undisclosed location in Philadelphia after being processed at a city jail and being fitted with an electronic monitoring device Friday morning, defense attorney Thomas Bergstrom said. He was due in court Monday for a bail hearing.
Lynn, who left a state prison on Thursday after 18 months behind bars, is the first U.S. church official to have been charged for hiding complaints that priests were molesting children.
City prosecutors had charged him with felony child endangerment, but the state Superior Court ruled that the law that existed at the time did not cover people who did not directly supervise children.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams this week said he would appeal the ruling, and he has criticized the archdiocese for helping Lynn post his $250,000 bail.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said in a Friday letter to clergy and parishioners that helping Lynn come up with $25,000 to post 10 percent of his bail was "both reasonable and just." He said Lynn remains on administrative leave and may not function in public as a priest.
Chaput described the appeals court decision as a matter of legal substance rather than technicalities.
Lynn "presents no danger to anyone," the archbishop wrote. "He poses no flight risk. The funding for his bail has been taken from no parish, school or ministry resources, impacts no ongoing work of the church and will be returned when the terms of bail are completed. Nor does it diminish in any way our determination to root out the possibility of sexual abuse from the life of our local church."
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Chaput has refused to "take harsh, clear disciplinary measures against those who hurt or let others hurt kids."
"Here's the message Chaput sends ... by bailing out Lynn: 'No matter how egregiously you misbehave and how many kids you endanger, we in the church hierarchy will continue to support you even if you're found guilty at trial,'" Clohessy said.