Southeastern PA

Defense starts in Philadelphia priest-abuse trial

PHILADELPHIA - The first defense witness in a groundbreaking clergy-abuse trial said the defendant lacked the authority to transfer priests within the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Monsignor William Lynn is the first Roman Catholic church official charged for allegedly helping transfer suspected predator-priests to new parishes.

Monsignor Joseph Garvin, former secretary for Catholic Human Services, testified Tuesday as the first defense witness.

Garvin said Lynn could recommend that a priest be transferred, but said the cardinal ultimately makes the decision. That fits with Lynn's argument that he took orders from Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

The trial is expected to last two more weeks. Jurors have heard from alleged victims and reviewed secret church documents over the past eight weeks.

Lynn is the former secretary of clergy in Philadelphia, serving from 1992 to 2004.

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