The first US church official convicted of endangering children in the priest abuse scandal has asked for a sentence of house arrest or probation, calling a long prison term ''cruel and unusual''.
Monsignor William Lynn, 61, of Philadelphia awaits sentencing on Tuesday (local time).
Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the city's Roman Catholic archdiocese, handled priest assignments and child sexual assault complaints from 1992 to 2004.
He faces up to seven years in prison after a jury convicted him last month of felony child endangerment for his oversight of now-defrocked priest Edward Avery. Avery is serving up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to child sexual assault and conspiracy.
Prosecutors spent a decade investigating hundreds of sex-abuse complaints kept in secret files at the archdiocese and issued two damning grand jury reports. They argue that Lynn and unindicted co-conspirators in the church hierarchy kept children in danger by covering up reports that priests were molesting children.
Lynn reviewed the secret files in 1994 and sent a list of 35 problem priests to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.
The cardinal had the list shredded, according to a memo the church turned over after Bevilacqua died in January.
Defence lawyers argued in a sentencing memo filed overnight New Zealand time that Lynn should not serve more time than abusers themselves.
''Monsignor Lynn has never harboured any intent to harm a child,'' lawyers Thomas Bergstrom and Jeffrey Lindy wrote. They called a seven-year term cruel and unusual.
Lynn has spent a month in prison since the verdict. He now seeks a term of time served combined with house arrest, community service, work release or probation.
Lynn plans to appeal his landmark conviction to the state Superior Court immediately after he is sentenced.
Prosecutors are expected to file their sentencing memo tomorrow.
Supporters insist that Lynn is being made a scapegoat for the sins of the church. Lynn himself testified that Bevilacqua had to approve all of his recommendations - from what to tell accusers to whether to send a priest to treatment or a new assignment.
The two sides also disagree over who qualifies as a victim in the case. The defence argues that only Avery's victim and the man's parents should be allowed to give victim impact statements. Prosecutors want to call some of the trial witnesses who testified about alleged abuse by other priests supervised by Lynn.