Philly Judge Refuses to Recuse Herself over Priest Sex Abuse Remark

A Philadelphia judge who made a remark about child sex abuse in the Catholic church has refused to recuse herself from the trial of an Archdiocese official.

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said on Wednesday that her comment was distorted and taken out of context, and she has always been “balanced, fair and impartial” in the case, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Sarmina had made the comment in a pretrial hearing when she rejected a proposal by defense lawyers to ask prospective jurors whether they believed sexual abuse was a widespread problem in the church. Sarmina reportedly said, “Anyone that doesn’t think there was widespread sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is living on another planet.”

She said the comment referred to past abuse reports and not about an ongoing problem, according to the Inquirer and the Legal Intelligencer.

Sarmina is presiding in the case against Msgr. William Lynn, accused of endangering the welfare of two youths through his assignment of priests. Two co-defendants are charged with sexually abusing the youths.

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