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Trial Ordered In Los Gatos Assault On Priest Accused Of Molestation

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Will Lynch booking photo. (Santa Clara County Sheriff)

Will Lynch booking photo. (Santa Clara County Sheriff)

LOS GATOS (CBS/AP/BCN) – A San Francisco man was ordered Thursday to stand trial for allegedly beating up a Catholic priest he claims molested him more than 35 years ago.

Prosecutors claim William Lynch, 43, attacked the Rev. Jerold Lindner, 65, last May at a retirement home for Jesuits in Los Gatos to exact revenge for the sexual abuse he says he suffered as a child.

Lynch’s attorney, Pat Harris, said Santa Clara County Judge David Cena ruled that Lynch must be tried on one felony count of assault. The judge declined a request to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

The ruling was made after a one-day preliminary hearing that began Wednesday and included testimony from three witnesses.

Cena scheduled Lynch for an arraignment on Feb. 22.

Lynch faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, said Harris, who expects the trial to take place this summer.

“We feel strongly the jury will come back with a not guilty verdict when they’ve seen all the evidence,” Harris said.  “They’ve got the wrong man on trial. They should have been trying Father Lindner and the priests at the Jesuit center.”

Lynch hopes the case will lead to changes in the statute of limitations, which has prevented prosecution of past sex abuse cases, Harris said.

Lindner has repeatedly denied abusing anyone and has never been criminally charged, though the siblings received $625,000 in a 1998 confidential settlement with the Jesuits for alleged abuse by the priest.

Prosecutor Vicki Gemetti with the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Lynch has said he wants the case to go to trial so he can expose the alleged molestation, raise awareness of clergy abuse and encourage other victims to come forward.

“Somebody needs to be a face for this abuse and I’m prepared to put myself on the line,” Lynch told The Associated Press in an interview in November. “There’s nothing they can take from me that they haven’t already taken.”

Lynch says he and his brother were molested by Lindner during a weekend camping trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1975. The boys, 7 and 4 at the time, were raped and forced to have oral sex with each other while Lindner watched, Lynch said.

Lynch says the childhood abuse has tormented him for years and contributed to alcohol abuse, depression, nightmares and his divorce.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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