PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – The jury in the child sex abuse trial of a Roman Catholic monsignor in Philadelphia ended an eighth day of deliberations without a verdict on Thursday.
Defense tactics provoked irritated retorts from the prosecution and the judge, while the defense spoke of a jury “struggling” to reach a decision after a 10-week trial.
Monsignor William Lynn, the highest-ranking U.S. church official to stand trial in the wide-ranging pedophilia scandal, is accused of conspiracy and child endangerment.
Prosecutors say that in his job overseeing hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Lynn covered up child sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes.
Also on trial is the Reverend James Brennan, who is accused of child endangerment and attempted rape of a 14-year-old child in 1996.
Jurors, who have been deliberating since June 1, asked two questions of Judge M. Teresa Sarmina – their 23rd and 24th queries – about what constitutes conspiracy and whether intent matters.
The judge told the jury it did not have to find intent if the behavior ended up being criminal and sent them out of the courtroom to resume deliberating.
As Lynn’s defense attorney Thomas Bergstrom told the judge he disagreed with her ruling, he was interrupted by shouts from the clearly angry prosecutor, Patrick Blessington.
“Enough. Sit down,” Blessington shouted. “I have seen better manners in a barnyard.
“Make him shut up,” the prosecutor said to the judge.
Before beginning deliberations, the jurors heard 10 weeks of testimony in the case that has rocked the archdiocese, the nation’s sixth-largest with 1.5 million members.
“They seem to be struggling,” Brennan’s defense attorney William Brennan said in court.
Tempers flared earlier when Brennan asked for a mistrial over a decision the judge made on Tuesday to allow the jury to hear testimony never submitted into evidence in this trial.
The judge denied the mistrial request and noted it should have been filed sooner.
“For you to now take this little arrogant attitude is not really helpful,” she said.
The judge also rejected a request from jurors to re-hear the complete testimony of three witnesses, telling them: “You are going to have to rely on your memories.
Prosecutors say Lynn’s motive was to avoid scandal and any potential loss of church donations. He supervised 800 priests, including investigating sex abuse claims, from 1992 to 2004.
The defense said Lynn tried to handle documented cases of pedophile priests, making a list in 1994 of 35 accused predators and writing memos to suggest treatment and suspensions.
It said he was hampered as he could only make recommendations to the head of the archdiocese, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died in January at age 88.
(Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst, Doina Chiacu and David Brunnstrom)
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