A 12-member Santa Clara County jury acquitted San Francisco resident William Lynch Thursday afternoon of felony elder abuse and felony assault stemming from an admitted encounter in May of 2010 with a priest in Los Gatos whom he said had raped and sodomized him and his brother as children in the '70s.
With the not-guilty findings related to the higher offenses, it also found Lynch not guilty of misdemeanor elder abuse, but hung 8-4 on the lesser offense of simple assault of Jesuit priest Jerold Lindner.
The trial, which began June 20, 2010, lasted eight days and after Monday's closing arguments by the prosecution and the defense, the jury convened for deliberations that took place all day Tuesday, July 3 and continued this morning with the verdict issued early this afternoon.
The announcement in Department 34 of the San Jose Hall of Justice was greeted with cheers and shouts of joy from supporters of Lynch, who picketed outside the courthouse on Hedding Street during the entire duration of the proceedings against clergy child sexual abuse.
Outside the courtroom, Lynch's defense attorneys, Pat Harris and Paul Mones, looked exuberant as well as their client, 44,
"We're very pleased with the verdict ... It was incredible in so many ways," declared Harris shortly after exiting the courthouse, explaining how Lynch refused to accept a plea deal so he could have his day in court and tell his story of the brutal abuse. Had he been found guilty, he would have faced four years in jail.
Harris called on the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office to file perjury charges against Lindner, who testified under oath he had not molested Lynch or his brother.
Defense attorney Paul Mones said one of the reasons the confrontation between Lynch and Lindner took place was because the Catholic Church has covered up decades of child sexual abuse molestation cases and has committed collusion hiding priests whom it knew had violated and raped children. "There are many people out there we've heard from during the trial who now view Will as their voice," Mones said.
The verdict is an example of strong anti-sexual abuse of children sentiment around the country as evidenced by the guilty verdicts in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse trial and that of Catholic Monsignor William J. Lynn who was found guilty by a jury in Philadelphia of child sexual abuse.
"People are finally now regarding the issue of sexual abuse of children as something we won't tolerate and this jury sent a message loud and clear to this DA's office," Mones added.