About 45 minutes after a jury found him not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse for attacking Jerold Lindner, William Lynch told KQED’s Stephanie Martin he was surprised by the favorable verdict.
Lynch say Lindner, a retired Jesuit priest, molested him in 1975, when Lynch was seven. Lynch admitted to punching Lindner, who was 65 at the time, several times in the 2010 incident. His defense — the attack was triggered by Lindner leering at him when Lynch confronted him with confession papers. Lindner has never acknowledged abusing Lynch, but in 1998 Lynch received a $625,000 settlement from the Jesuits after making that allegation.
Aside from acquitting Lynch on the felony charges, the jury deadlocked on a charge of misdemeanor assault, voting 8-4 to convict.
Edited transcript of today’s interview…
STEPHANIE MARTIN: How are you feeling now that this is over?
WILLIAM LYNCH: I’m relieved. It was unexpected. I didn’t think I was going to walk out of here with the jury making this decision.
I’m also really pleased. The decision is reflecting the consciousness of the country right now around this issue, and I think people are starting to speak and say we’re not going to accept this anymore, and if there’s no law in place to do what’s right, we’re going to do what’s right.
STEPHANIE MARTIN: How has the trial affected your recovery?
WILLIAM LYNCH: It’s affected it greatly and not just the trial but this entire process. I believe that it was wrong for me to do what I did ultimately, because I’m perpetuating the cycle of sexual abuse, and it’s the cycle I’ve lived in that I’m trying to break. And I encourage people not to do what I did the way I did it.
But one thing that’s going to result out of all of this is finding my voice and becoming empowered and finding a way to kind of take control of my life. I wasn’t attached to the verdict in the sense that no matter what they’d decided that wasn’t something they were ever going to be able to take a way from me. I can finally start to see how I can live with some peace and some freedom.
STEPHANIE MARTIN: Do you see yourself remaining active in fighting sexual abuse?
WILLIAM LYNCH: Absolutely. I think there’s a great opportunity here. I am where I am in this process. I’ve sort of been chosen by something, almost, largely through happenstance but as it’s unfolded I’ve realized there’s an opportunity — this is way bigger than me. I can help and make a difference so people don’t have to suffer like I did and be stuck in a system that doesn’t work. We can make some changes I think and help other people.
Stephanie Martin also interviewed one of Lynch’s defense attorneys, Paul Mones…
STEPHANIE MARTIN: What’s your reaction to the verdict?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY PAUL MONES: This is a remarkable victory. Will Lynch got on the stand and admitted that he hit Jerold Lindner and he gave the reasons why, and it sounds trite, but he trusted the system and the system served him well.
It’s a major victory. I think it’s part of a groundswell of understanding of the critical importance that sexual abuse has in the country now. There is a greater understanding of how devastating the effect of sexual abuse can be, and the jury recognized that in its verdict.
We said at the beginning of the trial that the prosecution was going to focus on May, 2010, and we believe that this event started much earlier, back in the mid-1970s when Will Lynch was raped and sodomized by Jerold Lindner.
We’re also experiencing to a certain extent a perfect storm, with the conviction of Monsignor Linn in Philadelphia and the conviction of Sandusky, we’re seeing a shift in the country in terms of awareness of the devastating effects of abuse.
STEPHANIE MARTIN: What would you say to those who say this might set a dangerous precedent for others? Some say William Lynch took the law into his own hands…
PAUL MONES: In terms of dangerous precedent, over 95% or more of sexual abuse victims never confront their victimizers in court or otherwise. As a result, this is a fairly unique action. You can count on your hand the number of times that people actually assault the people who abuse them.
To the extent that Will felt frustrated because the system didn’t respond to his needs, he went down there to confront Lindner and the fact that it ended in physical confrontation — he’s sorry about. But it’s one of the tragic realities of people who are victimized. We don’t’ see him as taking the law into his own hands. He understands how people might see it that way but that’s not what he did.