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Select an edition for focused news coverage when you visit AL.com.Monsignor William Lynn, convicted in June 2012 of endangering the welfare of a child by reassigning a priest with a history of sexual abuse to a Philadelphia parish that was unaware of his past, had his conviction overturned on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. (AP/File)
Pennsylvania Superior Court has overturned the conviction of the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be found guilty of covering up child sex abuse by reassigning a molesting priest.
Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia was convicted in June 2012 of endangering the welfare of a child by reassigning a priest with a history of sexual abuse to achurch that was unaware of his past. The court on Thursday ordered him to be released, .
Thepriest who was reassigned, Edward Avery, later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy. Lynn was not accused of personally molesting children, butwas sentenced to a three-to-six-year prison term.
A Superior Court of Pennsylvania appeals panel unanimously reversed Lynn s conviction and ordered him released from prison because the case was not supported by sufficient evidence.
Thomas Bergstrom, attorney for Lynn,said the rulingshowed Lynn should never have been prosecuted, andsaid he expects Lynn to be released within days.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he would likely appeal the ruling.
Lynn served as secretary for clergy for the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1992 to 2004 and had access to the files of information on infractions by its priests, according to court documents.
Lynn's lawyers argued on appeal that the law he was prosecuted under was not in place at the time of the crimes.
The child endangerment statute in effect when Lynn was secretary applied to "a parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age."
The law was amended in 2007 to include those who oversee the people supervising the child, such as Lynn.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia released a statement saying it had taken steps to assure the safety of children: "The decision by the Superior Court to overturn this conviction does not and will not alter the Church's commitment to assist and support the survivors of sexual abuse on their journey toward healing or our dedicated efforts to ensure that all young people in our care are safe."
Here is a CNN interview with Lynn's attorney:
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