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Priest Pleads 5th As South Bay Beating Trial Resumes

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Will Lynch booking photo. (Santa Clara County Sheriff)

Will Lynch booking photo. (Santa Clara County Sheriff)

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A Jesuit priest who was allegedly assaulted in 2010 by a man who claims the priest molested him several decades ago is refusing to testify further in his accused attacker’s San Jose trial.

The Rev. Jerold Lindner told Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena Monday morning that, under the advice of his attorney, he is invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and is declining to give additional testimony. Cena allowed the change and tossed Lindner’s previous testimony.

Lindner testified last week in the trial, in which defendant William Lynch, 44, has been charged with felony assault and elder abuse for allegedly attacking Lindner at a Los Gatos retirement home in May 2010.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

When the judge asked Linder Monday if he intends to plead the Fifth Amendment, Linder replied, “yes” and that he won’t be answering anymore questions.

Legal Analyst Steven Clark wasn’t surprised saying that the problem for the priest is that you can’t pick and choose the questions you want to answer.

“If you’re going to invoke the Fifth Amendment you have to invoke as to all the questions, so he can’t wave his privilege by picking and choosing his questions. That’s why he’s going to take a blanket fifth on this,” Clark said.

The judge decided to allow Linder to plead the Fifth and sent the jury home for the day.

Earlier Monday morning, Cena denied motions by the defense to declare a mistrial based on the prosecutor’s unusual claim in her opening statement that Lindner would likely lie on the witness stand by denying having molested Lynch and his brother on a camping trip when Lynch was 7 years old.

The prosecution’s case rests on the assertion that Lynch was acting in revenge as a vigilante when he assaulted Lindner, but the argument is complicated by Lindner’s claim in testimony last week that no sexual abuse occurred.

Smith, who is acting as a representative for the Lynch family and who says she was on the camping trip where the alleged molestation occurred in the 1970s, said outside of court Monday morning that Judge Cena’s decision not to declare a mistrial is “disappointing but not unexpected.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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