The trial for a San Francisco man accused of beating a priest at the in May 2010 began this morning with a rally outside the San Jose Hall of Justice organized by supporters of clergy sexual abuse victims.
Prosecutor Vicki Gemetti and attorneys Pat Harris and Paul Mones, who represent the defendant, presented opening statements in the case against William Lynch, 43, in Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena's chambers.
Showing a large color photo of defrocked Jesuit priest Jerold Lindner sitting on a chair, eyes closed, neck covered by a bib stained with a large amount of blood and his left eye and ear lacerated, Gemetti asked the 14-member jury, "Who beat up the old man?"
"What you will learn in the course of this trial is that the defendant beat up this old man ... why did he decide to beat up this man? The evidence will show that the defendant beat this man because he [was] angry and he wanted revenge."
Gemetti said she plans to put Lindner himself on the witness stand as well as two center employees, an investigator and other paramedics and medical personnel.
The prosecutor also surprisingly acknowledged that Lynch planned and executed the violent act against Lindner "who molested him over 30 years ago."
Lindner is not on trial, however, for alleged allegations of clergy sexual abuse. Lynch and his brother sued the Catholic Church in the late 1990s and settled, on the condition that Lindner acknowledge he had assaulted Lynch and his brother on a camping trip and that he apologize, attorney Harris said.
"During that camping trip, Father Jerold Lindner took William Lynch into a tent ... and he saw a man whose eyes changed ... who raped and sodomized him ... the next night he took his brother into the tent and ... forcibly raped, sodomized and forced Lynch on his brother to have sex with each other."
Harris said after Lindner raped and sodomized the boys he told them, "You're no longer a child of God. You're dirty."
When Lindner allegedly failed to acknowledge the assaults and did not apologize, Harris said Lynch had no choice but to take matters into his own hands. Harris also showed the jury a picture of Lynch as a 7-year-old boy and one of him with his then 4-year-old brother.
"The defendant acted as a vigilante ... [he] took the law into his own hands ... that's not a defense to these charges," Gemetti said.
Authorities say Lynch walked into the center's reception area the afternoon of May 10, 2010, and asked to speak to . He said he had a death notification about a member of the priest's family.
In a private parlor on the first floor of the center, Lynch asked the priest if he knew him and when Lindner responded he didn’t, Lynch “struck, punched, tried to kick Lindner around the face and the head."
Lynch has been charged with one Lynch has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Gemetti showed jurors a video of an interview Lynch gave the Mercury News last week during which he speaks about the sexual abuse accusations.
The case is being closely watched by critics of the Roman Catholic Church's handling of priest sex abuse cases.
If a jury convicts Lynch, he could serve a maximum of four years in state prison. The court, however, could grant him probation and give him up to one year in county jail, Gemetti said.