A woman attending the trial of a San Francisco man accused in the beating of the priest who allegedly sexually abused him confronted the clergyman who she claims also abused her as he entered the San Jose courtroom Thursday.
Debbie Lukas, a member of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), was outside of the courtroom as Father Jerold Lindner was escorted in by court security. She yelled "You have to look at me" at him.
Her screams could be heard from inside Department 34 of the San Jose Hall of Justice where the jury had been seated for a second day of testimony in the high-profile trial.
After the commotion, the courtroom sat silent, many perplexed, among them presiding Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena, prosecutor Vicki Gemetti and the attorneys representing defendant William Lynch.
"Out, out, out of the courtroom ... out, out, out, ma'am, out," those inside the courtroom could hear a bailiff saying to the woman.
Speaking to the jury, Judge Cena explained a development had "come up that requires the court and counsel's time and it needs to be addressed outside your presence."
As it turned out, Judge Cena's comments to the jury weren't about the outburst outside the courtroom. Rather the reason was a legal matter attorneys declined to discuss with the media.
On Wednesday, during opening statements, Gemetti said the priest had sexually molested Lynch and Lynch's brother over 30 years ago. Then on the witness stand, Lindner denied raping and sodomizing the brothers while on camping trips in the '70s.
Judge Cena said the undisclosed legal issue would require some work by the attorneys and that the jury would be reconvened at 10 a.m. Monday. He instructed the jurors not to speculate about the case or discuss it with anyone.
Cena said he would meet with the attorneys at 1:30 p.m. Friday to discuss the matter.
After the jury was escorted out of the courtroom, the judge addressed those attending the trial, including reporters. On Wednesday, an Associated Press writer was kicked out of the courtroom by the bailiff helping with security during the trial.
"Obviously there are emotions about this case," Judge Cena said. "I'm aware of it. I know that the media is covering this case. I don't want to see anything happen inside this courtroom. I will not hesitate to have the deputy remove anyone who creates any kind of disturbance. I don't care who you are, who you're with, why you're here or anything."
Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Elder, who has been attending the trial sitting by prosecutor Gemetti, left the courtroom as soon as Lukas' screams could be heard.
Friends of Lukas', comforted her outside the courthouse as she was in tears. "She lashed out at him [Lindner], she lost it ... she was yelling at him," said a woman, who declined to be identified.
Lukas received more than $1.5 million from the Catholic Church in a settlement agreement after bringing a lawsuit against Lindner, also alleging he molested her in the 1970s on the same camping trips taken by Lynch and his younger brother.
Lindner's niece, Tamara Roehm, who is expected to testify that Lindner molested her, said she watched as Lukas' screaming started.
"When Jerry [Lindner] came up the elevator, she was standing by the court entrance and she started walking and started yelling at him," Roehm recounted. "She said, 'I have a right to face him. He needs to look at me ... ".
Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, issued a statement Thursday morning calling on prosecutors to charge Lindner with perjury. "To let him get by with lying on the witness stand would be an affront to Will Lynch, other child sex abuse victims, and to justice itself.
"We call on Fr. Lindner’s Jesuit supervisors to publicly denounce him for his outrageous, callous and deceitful conduct. Fr. Lindner is on the Jesuit payroll. The Jesuits house him. The Jesuits likely recruited, educated, ordained, trained, transferred and shielded him. They can’t distance themselves now from his hurtful actions. They can’t silently sit by while he essentially mocks his victims in public."