|William "Will" Lynch|
Last week, Jesuit Priest Jerold Lindner testified for about 40 minutes about what he said was a "vicious" and painful attack. But Judge David A. Cena instructed the Santa Clara County jury to ignore Lindner's testimony, including his denial of the alleged molestation, after the Jesuit refused to answer any more questions on the grounds it might incriminate him. That left Gemetti with receptionist Santos and health care coordinator Eden as key witnesses, both of whom are now retired from Sacred Heart. Santos testified last week. On Wednesday, Eden painted a sympathetic portrait of the priest, who she said seemed "shaken" and "frightened" after the attack. She had to help him walk to the nurse's station, she testified, to get treatment for lacerations to his face after he refused her offer of a wheelchair.
In three police interviews shortly after the incident, Eden said she did not witness the attacker strike Lindner. Then, last year, during the preliminary hearing, she said she saw a man she identified as Will Lynch punch Lindner. On Wednesday, she changed her story again, saying Lynch tried to get back in the parlor where he left Lindner crumpled on the floor and bloodied, but she blocked the entrance.
Gemetti attempted to minimize the inconsistencies after Lynch's lead lawyer Pat Harris gently but relentlessly grilled Eden."Is it fair to say certain details are very clear in your mind and others that aren't so clear?" Gemetti asked. But Eden listed only two things that were very clear to her -- that Lindner was bloody and that the attacker paced while yelling about Lindner's alleged molestation of him and his brother. Yet the jury may well disregard the inconsistencies and focus on the combined effect of Gemetti's witnesses -- that it was Lynch who hit the priest because, as Eden testified, he was "very distressed" about the alleged molestation. Harris' focus has been to try to minimize the priest's injuries, as well as build a case that the attack was fleeting -- perhaps no longer than a minute. But if the jury believes Eden's latest account -- that she saw the punching and blocked the door -- they may also believe her testimony that Lynch stopped the attack only because she and Santos had come in the room. The jury remained mostly stoic Wednesday, enduring constant interruptions as the attorneys objected to the testimony and then conferred privately with the judge.
But Harris got a reaction out of the panel when he asked Eden if she was aware that priests had committed sexual misconduct while living at the center. "Yes," she said, prompting some surprised looks on jurors' faces. About 10 years ago, the Jesuits paid two developmentally disabled men who had been living at the center for three decades $7.5 million to settle their lawsuit contending they had been molested by two priests.
Two years later, a Jesuit priest who had been sent to the center because of mental health problems -- not pedophilia -- committed suicide. His family won a multimillion-dollar legal settlement after filing a wrongful-death lawsuit claiming that his religious superiors at the center failed to protect him from sexual abuse by a priest there.Link (here) to Mercury News for the full article.