Man acquitted of assaulting retired priest in CA

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A jury acquitted a man Thursday of assaulting a priest he says molested him more than three decades ago during a camping trip and left him with tormented memories that led to alcohol abuse, depression and suicide attempts.

The verdict came after defendant William Lynch took the witness stand during the two-week trial and acknowledged punching Jerold Lindner several times on May 10, 2010.

While previously pleading not guilty, Lynch said he hoped to use the case to publicly shame Lindner and bring further attention to the Catholic Church clergy abuse scandal.

Lynch has said memories of the priest have tormented him for years, and he struggled through nightmares, divorce and other problems. He tried to commit suicide twice.

Prosecutors called Lynch a vigilante and implored the jury not to be swayed by his dramatic testimony describing the horrific ordeal he claims to have endured at the hands of Lindner.

Lynch countered in his testimony that he only wanted the priest to sign a confession and started punching Lindner after the retired priest "leered" at him the same way he looked at Lynch in 1975 during the alleged molestation during a camping trip.

Priest abuse victims and their supporters contributed to Lynch's defense fund and packed the courtroom every day for a trial. Many carried picket signs outside the courthouse decrying the church abuse scandal.

Lynch refused to discuss a plea bargain with prosecutors, even when he was promised he could avoid prison and would serve no more than a year in exchange for a guilty plea.

Prosecutors said they were left with little choice but to take the case to trial and ask the jury to find Lynch guilty of felony assault and felony elder abuse. Lindner was 65 at the time of the beating.

Santa Clara County prosecutor Vicki Gemetti repeatedly told the jury of nine men and three women that she sympathized with Lynch and even conceded Lynch was molested. But Gemetti insisted that even the most unsavory of victims — drug dealers, wife beaters and child molesters — deserved equal protection under the law.

Lindner also testified and denied abusing Lynch. He later invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and would not testify further for fear of a perjury prosecution. The judge ordered Lindner's testimony stricken from the record.

In a deposition in the late 1990s, Lindner said he didn't recall Lynch, who received $625,000 in a 1998 confidential settlement with the Jesuits after alleging the abuse.

A jury has acquitted a man charged with assaulting a retired priest he says molested him more than three decades ago in California.

The jury of nine men and three women returned its verdict Thursday against William Lynch after starting deliberations Monday in San Jose.

Prosecutors say Lynch acted as a vigilante when he pummeled Jerold Lindner with his fists in the 2010 attack. They said Lynch's testimony about his alleged sexual abuse by Lindner was no excuse for beating up the priest years later.

Defense attorneys countered that it was not an act of revenge. Instead, they said Lynch wanted the priest to sign a confession and still felt threatened by him and the memories of the abuse.

Lindner denied on the witness stand that he molested Lynch.
Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 161502155 - local8now.com/a?a=161502155