The trial of the most senior church official in the United States to be charged with covering up priests' sexual abuse of children has begun under heavy media scrutiny in Philadelphia, reports AFP in the Herald Sun.
Prosecutors are targeting Monsignor William Lynn for allegedly shuffling two priests suspected of child abuse to other positions, thereby enabling the crimes to continue.
Assistant district attorney Jacqueline Coelho described him as the "keeper of the secrets," tasked with protecting the church from scandal and keeping parishioners in the dark. "The protection of children was the furthest thing from defendant (Mons.) Lynn's mind," Ms Coelho said.
She promised the jury a painstaking review of church archives in which he would be incriminated by his own words.
Defence attorneys were to give their opening statements later.
The role of such a senior official makes the trial the first of its kind in the United States.
In a surprise pre-trial twist Thursday, another co-defendant, defrocked priest Edward Avery, pleaded guilty to his own sex crimes, thereby avoiding trial. He was immediately sentenced to between two-and-a-half and five years in prison.
First US Catholic pedophile cover-up trial opens (Herald Sun/AFP)
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