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Man found not guilty in priest revenge attack: ‘I was wrong’

William Lynch

William Lynch, the San Francisco man who attacked a priest he accused of molesting him, said his actions were wrong -- even if a jury did not convict him on Thursday.

The jury found him not guilty of felony assault and felony elder abuse, despite his admission that he attacked Father Jerold Lindner in 2010. They were split on a final charge of misdemeanor assault and a Santa Clara County judge declared a mistrial on that count.

"I was wrong for what I did," said Lynch, 45, after the verdict was read. "If I'm going to be taking responsibility, I have to take it fully. And in [beating Lindner] … I was perpetuating the cycle of violence."

Surrounded by family, supporters and his attorneys in front of the courthouse, Lynch said: "I wanted to … be accountable, unlike the church and Father Jerry up to this point."

Lynch has accused Lindner of molesting him in 1974. The priest allegedly lured Lynch, then 7, and his 4-year-old brother into his tent during a Catholic family camping trip. The boys said that the priest raped them and forced them to perform oral sex on each other while he watched.

Lindner has not been charged because the statute of limitations ran out.

Dist. Atty. Jeffrey Rosen said his office would decide in the coming days whether to retry Lynch.

Rosen said that his office had a responsibility to charge Lynch for lying his way into the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, where the retired Lindner lived, and attacking him.

Using "a fake name, gloves, beating and bloodying someone. That's not justice under the law," Rosen said after the verdict, giving a shorthand account of Lynch's actions. "That's revenge."

Rosen said that although his office understood what motivated Lynch's behavior, "we do not condone it .… A just punishment is delivered through our justice system, not through the acts of one traumatized and troubled man."

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-- Maria La Ganga in San Jose

Photo: William Lynch leaves a San Jose courthouse during a break from jury deliberation on Thursday. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

 
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