NEW YORK  - The highest-ranking US church official to be convicted of covering up child abuse allegations, Philadelphia monsignor William Lynn, was sentenced to three to six years in prison on Tuesday. William Lynn, who was secretary of the archdiocese from 1994 to 2001 and tasked with investigating abuse claims, was found guilty last month of one count of child endangerment. Lawyers had pushed for Lynn to be spared prison, but Judge Teresa Sarmina imposed close to the maximum sentence of three and a half to seven years. “It was three to six years,” an official at the court in Philadelphia told AFP by telephone, confirming the sentence.

Lynn, 61, who took the witness stand for three days during his 10-week trial, was not charged with molesting children, but rather with covering up the crimes of priests who did. The trial, the first in the United States involving a senior official in the Catholic Church, also centered on two more Philadelphia priests. Reverend James Brennan, who was suspended from his duties as a priest, stood accused of attempting to rape a teenager in the 1990’s. The jury was hung over the charges dealing with Brennan, who will not face a new trial.