No retrial in assault on retired priest

The San Francisco Chronicle/July 11, 2012

The Santa Clara County district attorney's office will not retry William Lynch on a charge of beating a retired priest he says raped him when he was a child.

Lynch, 44, was acquitted July 5 of felony assault and elder abuse at the end of a two-week trial, but the jury deadlocked 8-4 for conviction on one misdemeanor count of assault.

"We have heard the jury," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement Wednesday. "We believe it is unlikely that a new jury would render a substantially different decision."

Lynch was accused of hitting Jerold Lindner, 67, in May 2010 at the Los Gatos retirement home where the Catholic priest lives. Lindner suffered bruises and two cuts requiring stitches.

"I think the D.A. looked at the case and made the right decision," said Paul Mones, one of Lynch's attorneys. "Will welcomes the decision. He's very gratified."

Lynch, who lives in San Francisco, testified that he had driven to the retirement home with the intention of making the ex-priest confess to molesting him and his brother during a religious camping trip in 1975, when Lynch was 7 and his brother was 4. But he said Lindner had leered at him, triggering tumultuous emotions and prompting his attack.

Deputy District Attorney Vicki Gemetti told the jury that Lindner had in fact raped Lynch, and the Catholic Church has paid out millions of dollars in settlements to men and women who said they were molested by the priest. One of those settlements was to the Lynch brothers, for $625,000, but that did not contain an admission of guilt.

In recent years, Lynch tried to get criminal charges filed against Lindner, but the six-year statute of limitations in place at the time of the alleged attack had expired.

Lynch's testimony in his assault trial drew sympathy from the jury and even the district attorney. Lynch said after the verdict that "I was wrong" for beating the priest, but added that he had refused to plead guilty to reduced charges because he wanted to bring attention to clergy sex abuse.

"We have heard Mr. Lynch," Rosen said. "His story of abuse is powerful. We hope it lends strength to our ongoing efforts to ease the statutes of limitations on child molestation so we can bring more child molesters to justice."

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