In the first conviction of a high-level Catholic church official in the nationwide priest sexual-abuse scandal, a monsignor in the Philadelphia archdiocese was found guilty Friday of child endangerment for covering up allegations of abuse of children.
Monsignor William J. Lynn, who supervised priests for the archdiocese, was accused of reassigning pedophile priests in an attempt to protect the church’s reputation and avoid lawsuits. A jury acquitted him, however, of conspiracy and another endangerment charge.
Also on trial in the landmark case was the Rev. James J. Brennan, accused of rape and child endangerment. The jury of seven men and five women deadlocked on those charges, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial on those counts. Prosecutors could decide to re-try Brennan.
By assigning pedophile priests to unsuspecting parishes, prosecutors said, Lynn exposed more children to potential abuse while putting the church’s interests ahead of protecting children. Prosecutors produced a list that Lynn compiled in 1994 naming 37 priests in the archdiocese who had been identified as pedophiles or were suspected of sexually abusing children.
Lynn faces up to seven years in prison on the endangerment conviction. He was denied bail and will remain in custody while awaiting a sentencing hearing Aug. 13.
Taliban gunmen lay siege to Afghan hotel, 18 dead
KABUL, Afghanistan — Heavily armed Taliban gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel near Kabul, sending terrified guests jumping from windows or into a lake to try to escape the onslaught. Eighteen people were killed in the 12-hour rampage, their bullet-riddled bodies strewn on carpets, on the lawn and a blood-smeared patio.
The attack, which ended at midday Friday, was a gruesome reminder of the Taliban’s determination to scare the Afghan people and undermine efforts to stabilize the nation as U.S.-led forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014.
The insurgents arrived shortly before midnight at the Spozhmai hotel, situated in a wooded area on the banks of the turquoise-colored Qargha Lake, where Afghan families often go to relax and forget about the war.
The gunmen — toting machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and vests laden with explosives — first killed the hotel’s security guards, then pushed their way inside and began firing at guests who were having late-night meals. Gunfire rang out for hours and black smoke rose from the two-story hotel as NATO helicopters circled overhead.
The attack turned the normally placid hotel into a bloody scene of bodies and half-eaten food. One man with a gunshot wound to his torso was found dead under a tree. The bodies of two other men in blood-stained clothes were slumped over one another in the grass. The body of one of the attackers was lying on a blood-stained stone patio.
Some of the guests escaped while others were held hostage as the attackers battled more than 100 Afghan security forces who rushed to the scene with support from some coalition troops. The forces helped rescue more than 40 guests from the hotel.
Syria shoots down Turkish warplane on grounds it violated airspace
BEIRUT — Syria shot down a warplane from Turkey on Friday that it said had violated its airspace, an event that illustrated the potential for the Syrian conflict to spill across its borders and risked a further deterioration in relations between neighbors that once were close allies.
In a terse statement after midnight, the office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Syria had downed the Turkish plane that disappeared about midday off the Syrian coast. The fate of the two pilots was unknown.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the aircraft, flying low and fast, violated Syrian airspace over the Mediterranean Sea and was shot down by ground fire. It said the plane was hit about half a mile from the Syrian coast and crashed into the sea.
Turkey afterward vowed to take “necessary steps.”