Accused of conspiracy, Lynn claims Church didn’t ‘follow through’
As the Catholic priest sex abuse trial entered into its fourth week, testimony was heard by the jury from more victims, implicating a newly installed West Virginia Catholic bishop and outlaying more facts that Church officials knew about the abuse and did little to remove those accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with minors.
On Thursday, testimony from Monsignor William Lynn was read detailing a priest’s sexual abuse of a minor that went on for several years. Complaints from the victims were made to the Church but, according to Lynn’s testimony, those accusations “fell through the cracks” and were never followed up.
Lynn testified that Fr. Stanley Gana had sex with a minor, Robert Karpinski, who later became a priest himself. Gana was described as a “serial predator” and Karpinski and a second victim testified in lurid detail of how they were in “rotation” to have sexual contact with predator priests. Gana has not been charged in the case.
Lynn was the secretary for clergy for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a position that made it his duty to investigate allegations of sexual abuse. He is charged with conspiracy.
Karpinski testified that Gana had sex with him throughout his high school years, and that he reported it to Lynn in 1992. Lynn told the grand jury that Gana was not sent in for psychiatric evaluation because the case “fell through the cracks.”
According to the investigation, Gana allegedly sexually abused different boys at different parishes for years.
“He took advantage of altar boys, their trusting families and vulnerable teenagers with emotional problems. He took groups of adolescent male parishioners on overnight trips and would rotate them through his bed. He collected nude pornographic photos of his victims. He molested boys on a farm, in vacation houses, and in the Church rectory. Some minors he abused for years,” the report stated.
Prosecutors allege that Lynn knew about the allegations against Gana, but “thwarted efforts to have him removed from active ministry.”
In his grand jury testimony, Lynn was asked about memorandums regarding the predator priests, he stated they were in the Secret Archives.
“Robert Karpinski signed a complaint against Gana. Where is it?” Lynn was asked.
“I don’t know,” Lynn told the grand jury in his statement read in court on Thursday. “I presume it’s in the Secret Archives.”
According to Lynn’s grand jury testimony, Church officials knew about the problem priests — they were suspicious of Gana and that the allegations might be true. But investigators alleged that Lynn “took no steps to have him removed.”
“Quite the opposite, as documented by the previous grand jury, Msgr. Lynn spent a decade improperly investigating Gana’s victims, rather than Gana, misleading the priests treatment team so its members would not know the full extent of his criminal misconduct; and explicitly supporting Gana’s successful efforts to remain in active ministry, where he continued to perform Mass with altar boys,” the report said.
Earlier testimony by victims implicated West Virginia Roman Catholic Bishop Michael Bransfield, a colleague of Gana’s. In a prepared statement, released through the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield denied the accusations, saying he had “never sexually abused anyone.”
“Over the years, I have felt devastation for both the victims and the Church as I learned about the terrible actions they took with innocent victims,” Bransfield said. “To now be unfairly included in that group, and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking,” Bransfield said. “I was in Rome attending meetings at the Vatican when this false story about me was publicly released by the media without my knowledge or input. To say I was shocked and saddened would be an understatement.”