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A Roman Catholic monsignor who was the first U.S. church official to be convicted of covering up sexual abuse at the hands of priests under his supervision was sentenced Tuesday to three to six years in prison.
The judge who handed out the sentence told Msgr. William J. Lynn that he "enabled monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children," adding, "You knew full well what was right, Monsignor Lynn, but you chose wrong."
Lynn was convicted last month on one count of child endangerment for his part in covering up now de-frocked priest Edward Avery's abuse of an altar boy in 1999, CNN reports.
While serving as secretary from 1992 to 2004, Lynn oversaw some 800 priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Reuters explains, covering up complaints of child sexual assault by transferring accused priests to unsuspecting parishes. Although Lynn heard and addressed reports of Avery’s behavior in 1994, he later transferred the priest to the parish where the 1999 assault occurred.
While shorter than the seven-year sentence suggested by prosecutors, Lynn’s jail time exceeds the two-and-a-half to five year sentence Avery is now serving, according to the Associated Press. Lynn was not convicted of a second count of child endangerment or of a conspiracy charge.