A San Francisco jury today acquitted Will Lynch of felony charges that he beat up and abused the cleric he says brutally raped him decades earlier.
The prosecution contended that on May 10, 2010, Lynch, then 42, beat up Lindner, who was 65, at a Jesuit center to avenge the priest’s molestation of him and his brother in the 1970s on a camping trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Lindner was never prosecuted for allegedly molesting the Lynch brothers and at least nine other children because the statute of limitations had run out by the time they reported the alleged crimes.
The Santa Clara County courtroom was packed as the assault trial — normally a brief event — stretched over three weeks. From accusations of prosecutorial misconduct to a confrontation in the hallway between the priest and one of his alleged molestation victims, the trial was roiled by disruptions
Without acknowledging any wrongdoing, the Jesuits paid Lynch and his brother about $187,000 each after legal fees in 1998 to settle a lawsuit they filed claiming Lindner had raped Lynch and made him have oral sex with his 4-year-old brother. The order also paid another camper more than $1.5 million to settle her lawsuit. In 2007, one of Lindner’s nieces sued the Jesuits for Lindner’s alleged sexual abuse of her as a child and settled for $786,000.
But the molestation and lack of prosecution continued to eat away at Lynch. He testified he confronted Lindner in hopes he would sign a confession to sexually molesting him and 4-year-old brother on the camping trip organized by a religious group.
He said he began pummeling Lindner after the priest refused to sign a confession and “leered” at him the same way he did during the alleged molestation decades ago.
Before the verdict was reached, the jury had asked the judge for the definition of nullification, which is when a jury refuses to convict even though they believe the evidence justifies it.