Man accused of beating priest appears in court

February 9, 2011 9:13:59 AM PST
A Bay Area man accused of beating his former priest is facing the charges head-on. He went to court Friday looking for his own kind of justice. William Lynch is using the charges against him to put the spotlight on Father Jerry Lindner -- a man he says abused children for decades. Lynch is hoping to use the allegations against him to expose crimes he says were never brought to court. Lynch is accused of brutally beating the former priest on May 10, but two dozen demonstrations who turned out outside the courthouse Friday made it clear this case is about publically shaming Lindner.

"He raped his nieces and nephews, he raped Will, he raped Bart, he raped Deb and he raped Crista," said Lynch family friend Christina Smith. "Why isn't he in jail?"

The rally included Lynch's sister and his mother, Peggy Lynch, who spoke to ABC7 only briefly, saying the abuse in 1975 against both of her sons is devastating even today.

"There aren't even words to describe what it does to families," she said.

Prosecutors say Lynch carried out a premeditated attack on the now 65-year-old Lindner at a Los Gatos retirement home for Jesuit Priests. They also say Lynch can be heard on 911 tapes threatening to kill Lindner. The assault did put him in the hospital.

"We believe that our laws exist to protect all members of society, irrespective of who the victim is," said deputy district attorney Vicki Gemetti.

The church acknowledges the well-documented allegations against Lindner, even by members of his own family. Lynch and his brother received a $625,000 settlement in 1998, but because of the statue of limitations, Lindner has never been charged with a crime.

"My hope in this assault case is that healing and reconciliation will come to all those who are involved," said Rev. John McGarry of Jesuits for the California Province.

Lynch told The Associated Press, "somebody needs to be a face for this abuse and I'm prepared to put myself on the line." His attorney, Pat Harris, says they hope to force victim testimony during a trial.

"Mr. Lynch is extremely resolute about this case," said Harris. "He is determined to see that justice is done and that's what we are going to see happen."

Lynch will be back in court on Dec. 7, at which time his attorney says he will plead not guilty to the felony assault charge.