A San Francisco man accused of beating a priest at the in May of 2010 hasn't taken the stand yet to answer to the charges, yet his defense attorney on Friday said they've never denied the assault took place.
"We've never denied it ... We've never denied it," repeated William Lynch's attorney Pat Harris, with the Los Angeles-based law firm of Geragos & Geragos. "We've never denied that he [William Lynch] was the person who assaulted him (Father Jerold Lindner]. He was the person who confronted him there. He was the person there that day," Harris said.
Without having to contend that controversial fact, Harris said he was successful at getting Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena to allow him to present some witnesses who will testify about the motives.
The defense contends they were related to the priest's supposed rape and sodomizing of Lynch and his brother when they were small boys, 7 and 4, in the '70s while on camping trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
"Mr. Harris did inform the court that he expected that they would not be contesting that an assault happened," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Vicki Gemetti. "But technically, the defendant hasn't admitted anything."
Cena ruled during a May 8 motions and in limine hearing, or pretrial motions, that he will allow some testimony to impeach the defrocked Jesuit priest if he were to deny certain incidents related to his credibility.
Lindner has denied for years that he abused anyone. He has also never been charged with sexual abuse. The Rev. John P. McGarry, the former provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, denied last year that Lindner was a threat to the community.
However, Lynch and his brother received $625,000 in a 1998 confidential settlement with the Order for alleged abuse by the priest.
Lynch will be allowed to bring up the fact that Lindner allegedly molested him on certain dates and a certain number of incidents and Harris will decide who those witnesses will be, Gemetti explained.
About Harris wanting to present during the trial information related to Lynch's alleged suffering of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gemetti said the court has ruled that expert testimony along those lines is not admissible.
The court, however, has also indicated that it's willing to reconsider all of its rulings, if the facts and circumstances change.
"He's [Judge Cena] essentially making rulings based on what he expects the facts to be and if those facts differ, then he'll change his rulings and that goes for all motions," Gemetti explained.
For example, Gemetti said, the defense moved to exclude prior convictions of the defendant and she said she didn't object to that, but it was dependent on how evidence is presented during the trial. Depending on how that goes, she may ask the court to reconsider that motion.
The court, she said, would be willing to reconsider that request, if there were reasons to do so. "This is not uncommon in any trial. Trials are fluid ... legal rulings that were previously made may become relevant," she added.
Gemetti said she never filed a motion to admit Lynch's prior convictions and that it was Harris who asked they be excluded and that motion was granted. One such domestic violence misdemeanor 11 years ago will not be allowed, she said.
Jury selection takes place today and Tuesday, May 15, a process also known as jury hardships, in department 34 on the fifth floor of the Santa Clara County Superior Court Hall of Justice in San Jose.
Harris and Gemetti will decide who the 12 jurors and two alternates will be. A final decision on the panel is expected May 21, Gemetti said.
Juror hardships are being determined such as whether those summoned by the court have legitimate excuses not to serve during the upcoming high-profile trial, such as having a pre-paid vacation, being students with exams, or facing financial burdens if they're selected.
Those found eligible will fill out a jury questionnaire and will be querried by the attorneys on May 21 using their pre-emptory challenges that can be exercised during this process. They will then go back and forth to determine which jurors will be sworn in, Gemetti added.
Evidence will begin to be presented at 9 a.m., June 20 in Judge Cena's courtroom.
Lynch, 43, has been
Harris said his client is doing well and "is ready for his day in court," and stressed that he doesn't believe his client should be found guilty of the assault charges.
Lynch's supporters, who include members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), plan to attend the trial and use the case to continue to speak against alleged sexual abuse crimes at the hands of priests and religious brethren in several orders in the Roman Catholic Church.