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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Arrested After Suing the Vatican

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A man charged with assaulting a priest at a Jesuit retirement home has sued the Vatican, claiming it knew its priest had sexually molested him and others, and failed to protect him from being "raped, tortured, and forced to engage in sexual acts with his own brother," when they were children.

William Lynch, 43, was arrested on Friday, 2 days after he sued the Vatican, the Oakland Archdiocese, the Jesuit Order, The Christian Family Movement and others in Federal Court. Lynch was accused of assaulting the Rev. Jerold Lindner, 65, in the lobby of a retirement home in Los Gatos, in May this year.

Lynch claims Lindner oversaw his rape, torture and abuse at a summer camp when he was 7, and that the religious defendants knew of Lindner's propensities, and covered for him for decades.

"In May 1975, plaintiff was entrusted to a CFM [Christian Family Movement] children's camp in Portola State Park in the state of California, whereat he was raped, tortured, and forced to engage in sexual acts with is own brother by Jesuit priest and CFM Camp Spiritual Advisor Jerold W. Lindner. Plaintiff was 7 years old at that time," according to the complaint.

"Not only did the Jesuit Order know of Lindner's propensities for child rape and abuse, Lindner was well known by his order as a 'torturer of children.' He was specifically known for sexual gratification while torturing his victims among his order, and his reputation and knowledge of his crimes extended all the way to the Holy See in the 1970s [and] 1980s."

Lynch's lawyer told The Associated Press last week that Lynch put up $25,000 bail and will plead not guilty to the assault charges. No explanation was provided why Lynch was arrested 2 days after he filed his lawsuit for an assault that allegedly occurred in May.

Lynch says in his complaint that the Vatican and the other defendants continue to protect the retired priest after "decades of abuse and hundreds of victims."

"Lindner was a Roman Catholic Priest and employee of Defendant Catholic Church for over four decades," according to the complaint.

"Even now, although the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy See know of Lindner's decades of abuse and hundreds of victims, Lindner still receives a pension from the Holy See and Oakland Archdiocese and has yet to be defrocked," the complaint states.

Lindner is not named as a defendant in Lynch's complaint.

The Associated Press reported on Friday, however, that "Father Lindner, 65, has been accused of abuse by nearly a dozen people, including his sister and nieces and nephews. ... He has previously denied abusing the Lynch boys and has not been criminally charged. The abuse falls outside the statute of limitations."

The AP report continued: "Father Lindner was removed from the ministry and placed at the Los Gatos retirement home in 2001.

"He was named in two additional lawsuits for abuse between 1973 and 1985, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The cases were included in a $660 million settlement struck between the church and more than 550 plaintiffs in 2007."

Lynch claims that the Vatican and the other defendants not only covered for Lindner's sexual abuse but continued to promote him despite their guilty knowledge.

"Lindner's sexual abuse of children began in [the] 1950s, continued through the 1970s and persisted into the 1980s, when Lindner was actually promoted by defendants to a teacher post at an all boys school, Loyola High School in Los Angeles," according to the complaint.

"Lindner actually abused his own nieces, nephews and a younger sibling, all of which was brought to the attention of the Catholic Church by Lindner's own brother. One memorandum among his superiors regarding Lindner's conduct reads that the accusations ... should be kept 'internal to the Society of Jesus.' Further, the Catholic Church has never reported Lindner's crimes, despite knowledge of them, to any law enforcement agency, parent or teacher," according to the complaint.

Lynch and his brother settled a previous lawsuit for their alleged abuse at the children's camp, accepting $625,000 from the Jesuits of the California Province in 1998, the AP reported.

According to his federal complaint: "The sexual abuse of plaintiff, and the circumstances under which the abuse occurred, caused plaintiff to develop various psychological coping mechanisms and symptoms of psychological distress, including great shame, guilt, rage, alcohol abuse, self-blame, depression, repression and disassociation. As a result, plaintiff was unable to perceive or know the existence or nature of his psychological and emotional injuries and their connection to the sexual abuse perpetuated upon him by Lindner.

"Plaintiff is still unaware of the deep and troubling psychological pain caused by Lindner and all defendants."

Lynch seeks punitive damages.

He is represented by Eugene P. Harris with Geragos & Geragos of Los Angeles.

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