When defrocked priest Stanley Gana went absent without leave from a Catholic therapy facility in Toronto after being accused of sexually abusing two teenagers, Monsignor William J. Lynn told a grand jury in 2002 that “it wasn’t that big of a deal at that time.”
Portions of Lynn’s grand jury testimony from almost a decade ago were read into the record during Lynn’s criminal trial Thursday.
Gana went AWOL for nine months in 1996, spending most of that time in Florida despite not having permission to leave the Toronto facility.
Lynn, who as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004 was the personnel director for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s priests, was peppered with several questions in that proceeding about what he did once Gana left the treatment facility in March 1996: why Gana’s stipend wasn’t cut off; why Lynn didn’t go himself to Florida to deal with the wayward priest; and why Lynn did not start the process to strip Gana, whose therapist in Canada said had admitted to the sexual abuse, of his priestly status.
Lynn said that in 1996 he thought that a man could not be removed from the priesthood — or “laicized” — unless the priest himself agreed to voluntarily give up his ordination. It was not until the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued standards in 2002 for dealing with sex abuse by clergy that he knew that a priest could be thrown out without his cooperation, Lynn testified.
When Lynn was asked “did it ever occur to you that you had the option of traveling down to Florida” just as he would travel to Canada to meet with priests’ therapists, Lynn said it never occurred to him to make the trip.
And Lynn said that he was not sure if Gana was still being paid while he was AWOL for nine months, but documents at the 2002 grand jury showed that he was paid $550 a month. Canonical law requires that priests be provided sustenance, Lynn testified in 2002.
Lynn’s only contact with Gana was by letter or through infrequent phone calls during the nine months Gana stayed away, according to the grand jury testimony.
Gana was sent to the Canadian treatment facility in 1996 after a second man came forward in the fall of 1995 to report that Gana had abused him as a young teenager.
Gana’s abrupt departure from ministry in Pennsylvania did not go unnoticed by parishioners in Florida, according to the grand jury testimony read into the record Thursday.
Parishioners wondered why Gana, who had a house in their Orlando, Fla., parish, was living in his house with a number of Slovakian youths. Because of those reports, a nun called Lynn’s assistant.
Sister Lucy Vazquez said that because of her own diocese’s sexual abuse scandals, there was a policy that priests were banned from having minors stay in their rectories and they did not want to have any more scandals. Lynn’s assistant, according to the memorandum of the conversation, only told Vazquez that Gana had been in the hospital and he had left against medical advice.
Lynn testified in 2002 that he told Gana not to have young people living with him. When he was asked if he did anything to make sure those young people were no longer living with Gana, Lynn said he relied upon Gana’s word.
Gana went even farther afield through a trip to Slovakia before he finally returned to the Canadian treatment facility, according to Thursday’s testimony.
Lynn is not charged with endangering the welfare of any children abused by Gana. Instead, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina allowed the evidence regarding Gana and other priests to be introduced to shed light on what Lynn knew about the risks that abusive priests posed to youths.
Lynn is on trial for allegedly endangering the welfare of two young men whom his co-defendants allegedly abused and being in a conspiracy with his co-defendants.
Even though Gana had admitted to sexually abusing M.B. and R.K., who both testified earlier this month that they reported Gana’s abuse of them in the 1990s, Gana was not diagnosed as a pedophile — a person who prefers children sexually over adults — or as an ephebophile — a person who prefers adolescents sexually over adults — but was diagnosed as someone who acts out when under the influence of alcohol, according to testimony in the case.
Lynn was asked in 2002 if that diagnosis surprised him because Gana had never been identified before to have a substance abuse problem. Lynn said it did surprise him.
The only time M.B. testified he ever knew Gana to drink was after he’d confronted Gana about the sexual relationship Gana was having with R.K. at the same time Gana was having a sexual relationship with M.B., M.B. said.
Gana was returned to limited ministry at a monastery where nuns lived, but both M.B. and R.K. contacted Lynn when they found out Gana was serving Masses along with altar servers, they testified earlier this month.
The Legal is not naming the alleged victims.
Gana was not taken out of ministry altogether until 2002. He was defrocked in 2006.
Lynn was represented in the grand jury by C. Clark Hodgson Jr. of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.