Priest won’t face perjury charge

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The San Francisco Chromicle

Updated 10:57 p.m., Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Erin Allday

The Santa Clara County district attorney will not charge a priest for lying under oath during the assault trial of William Lynch, when the priest told a jury that he did not molest Lynch and his brother 30 years ago.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement Wednesday that he believes retired Catholic priest Jerold Lindner did lie during his brief testimony at the trial in July. But to charge Lindner with perjury, the district attorney’s office would have to prove that Lindner’s testimony was critical to the trial.

Since both the prosecution and the defense teams agreed that Lynch had been molested as a child, Lindner’s denial of the molestation was not a key element of the case, Rosen’s office said. A jury eventually found Lynch not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse and deadlocked on a count of misdemeanor assault.

“We believe that Lindner lied. However, perjury is not merely lying under oath,” Rosen said in a statement. “It is a highly technical criminal offense that requires several elements to be proved.”

Lynch had been accused of felony assault and elder abuse after he confronted Lindner at the Sacred Heart retirement home in Los Gatos in May 2010. Lynch demanded that Lindner sign papers confessing to having molested Lynch and his brother when they were 4 and 7 years old. Lindner refused.

Lynch admitted to hitting Lindner at least twice. Lindner suffered bruises and cuts on his head that required stitches.

Lynch and his attorneys said they were disappointed with the district attorney’s decision not to charge Lindner with perjury. With the statute of limitations long expired and Lynch unable to get criminal charges filed against Lindner for the alleged molestation, they had hoped to at least see him charged with lying.

“I’m not happy about it, but frankly I wasn’t surprised too much either,” said Lynch.

He said he is exploring filing civil action against Lindner and the priest retirement home where he lives, and is attempting to get statutes of limitations on pedophilia repealed. He is also creating a nonprofit to help other victims of clergy abuse.

“There is an opportunity here to make a statement, to send a message to the Catholic Church and pedophiles everywhere that you can’t get away with this, and that there are implications,” Lynch said.

Chronicle staff writer Kevin Fagan contributed to this report.

Erin Allday is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: eallday@sfchronicle.com

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