Monday, June 25, 2012

Would You Convict A Man Who Beat Up His Abuser?

The LA Times  has a story by Maria L. LaGanga in Thursday's (June 21, 2012) edition about a man on trial for tracking down and beating the priest who raped him (when he was seven) and his four year old brother then made him perform incest on his brother.  The article reports that the Deputy District Attorney Vickie Gemetti showed a larger than life picture of the beaten priest and told the jury that William Lynch (now 45) beat him. 
"The defendant planned and executed the violent attack against the man who molested him 30 years ago,"  she continued, saying Lynch acted as a vigilante.  And revenge, Gemetti said, "is not a defense, ever, to a criminal act."
Knowing that the other side had powerful evidence of its own, she showed
. . .a nine-minute video of Lynch describing for the San Jose Mercury News how Lindner had raped and strangled him and forced him to commit incest as the priest watched.
Then she told the jury that the evidence in the trial "will show that he molested the defendant all those years ago."
In addition, Gemetti said, Lindner [the priest] "will probably lie to you" and say the abuse never happened.  But Lynch is the one on trial, she said, and "the evidence in this case will establish the defendant beat this man. It will be undeniable."
 I'm a firm believer in rule of law.  Having the community at large bring someone to justice has lots working in its favor.  It substitutes the emotionally distraught victims with people who can more objectively determine the guilt of suspects.  It also moves the punishment to the more neutral government which is upholding the rule of law and away from family, shutting off never ending feuds and chains of revenge.  But there are many situations where the justice system has fallen down, even in the United States, from unpunished lynchings to DNA proven wrong convictions. That said, what happens when the rule of law doesn't work?

That appears to be the case here.  The two Lynch boys kept quiet (the priest had threatened to do terrible things if they told anyone) until they were in their 20s when the younger brother told his parents and the boys brought a civil suit against Lindner to get him out of the classroom.
The case was settled for $625,000, and Lindner was removed from Loyola High School in Los Angeles, where he had been teaching.  The church never informed law enforcement about the allegations. 
The statute of limitations is up for the 67 year old Lindner.

What exactly did Lynch do?
Witnesses testified during the preliminary hearing that Lynch had punched and kicked the elderly priest, yelling:  "You ruined my life.  Turn yourself in.  You molested me."
(67 Elderly?    Elderly is a state of mind and health, not an age thing, but that's a different post.)

I found myself writing ex-priest, but I looked through the article to see if he is an 'ex.'  He's called Father Lindner in the story and it says he was assaulted in his Jesuit retirement home. 

No one (except the the priest) seems to be disputing the molestation or the later beating.  The only dispute seems to be whether this was revenge or whether Lynch, who, the article says, has "suffered from depression and alcohol abuse and twice attempted suicide," simply "needed to confront Father Lindner about what he'd done."

OK, so if you were on the jury, given this much information - and at trial there is always more - how would you vote?  Guilty or Not Guilty?  You can read the whole article here before making your decision.


  1. Well I can tell you my mom, at the age of 23, spray painted the front door of a layman church administrator, back in the village. The guy left the next day. Apparently mom what at the village airport with her can of spray paint.

    1. Apparently mom WAS at the village airport with her can of spray paint as the guy was leaving.

      Sorry for the spelling mistake...

      Mom hated sickos. This guy was one of those sickos who thought going after children for sexual pleasure was the way to be.

      Mom told the story for years. Made sure we knew the guys name, where he worshiped, what town he was in...
      She told everybody.

  2. It makes me think of the story in QB VII- where the author accused a doctor of having been a Nazi and a torturer in an internment camp. The doctor sued for libel. (Spoiler- scroll down)

    The author didn't deny writing: he brought witnesses and sworn testimony. The jury agreed that the doctor had indeed been libeled. The doctor won the case, and was awarded damages, 1 penny. What they thought his reputation was worth.

  3. I would make sure I wasn't on the jury. No, I couldn't be fair, having been abused myself. Drag the bastard naked through town behind a truck until he is ALMOST dead. Let him suffer and then pour acid on the wounds. After that, shoot him in the knee caps. Make sure he lives and suffers the rest of his life.

  4. Guilty, but no punishment and no record. If that is not possible guilty with the least possible punishment. A court verdict sets an expectation. There should be no expectation of vigilante justice. If all the witnesses can not testify because of the state then innocent.

  5. I believe that sometimes jury nullification is necessary, and it sounds like this would be one of those times. I would have to see the evidence and testimony, but if it's as it appears I would not vote to convict.


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