SAN JOSE, Calif.
A man who beat up a priest who allegedly molested him as a child was acquitted Thursday of assault, a surprising verdict that allowed the defendant to escape a prison sentence.
Supporters of defendant William Lynch openly wept and hugged in the courtroom as the verdicts were read. Later, Lynch and his two attorneys emerged from the courthouse to a rousing cheer.
“I honestly thought I was going to jail,” Lynch said. “It turned out better than I expected.”
Steven Clark, a former prosecutor who watched most of the trial, called the verdict a rarity given that Lynch admitted the beating on the witness stand.
“The DA’s office was in a very difficult position because they had to go forward with the case,” Clark said.