Case of man who beat priest in hands of jury

Courtroom drawings by Vicki Behringer
July 2, 2012 6:18:05 PM PDT
In the South Bay, the jury now has the case of a man accused of beating a priest he says sexually abused him years ago. William Lynch is accused of assaulting Father Jerold Lindner in Los Gatos on May 10, 2010. The prosecution says the alleged sexual abuse of Lynch in 1975 doesn't factor into the assault in 2010.

Prosecutors told the jury that the facts and the injuries to Lindner prove their felony case. The defense told the jury that the half-inch cut above the priest's eye and the bruising to his face were a misdemeanor assault at best.

Deputy District Attorney Vicki Gemetti told the jury that two wrongs don't make a right and that they must find Lynch guilty of assaulting Lindner. Prosecutors say the evidence proves felony assault capable of producing great bodily harm and a felony charge of elder abuse since the former priest was 65-years-old at the time of the confrontation.

Lynch's defense attorney fought hard to tell the jury they were the last line of defense to stop what he called an overzealous prosecution. "He's trying to tell the jury you can decide not guilty here. You can decide not guilty on all charges. You can decide not guilty on the greater charges and guilty on the lesser charges," Lynch supporter Christina Smith said.

The defense called the former priest a monster who raped and tortured Lynch and his brother when they were just 7-years-old and 4-years-years old. Pat Harris told the jury they have the absolute right to vote not guilty in this case. Outside of the jury presence, the judge told Harris to watch his step saying, "They have to decide the case on facts and law. To instruct them to do anything other than that is improper and violates their oath."

The prosecutor went back to Lynch's own admission that he indeed hit Lindner. Gemetti says it was a selfish act of revenge and that vigilante-ism must not be allowed in a Democratic society. "The fact that the victim did something horrific to the defendant years ago doesn't give the defendant the right to go out and commit a crime," ABC7 News legal analyst Dean Johnson says. "Once again, you can't take the law into your own hands."

Three women who say they were also molested by Father Lindner say the wrong man is on trial. "There's just no comparison between what's happening here today and what the real justice is and what the real criminal action was. It was the molestation and rape of children," Debbie Lukas said.

After closing arguments, the jury had the case for less than 45 minutes. They will resume deliberations Tuesday morning.

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