A Roman Catholic church official given a stiff prison term for his handling of priest-abuse cases has had his landmark conviction overturned, and may soon be back before the sentencing judge for bail.

Monsignor William Lynn served 18 months of his three- to six-year term for child endangerment before the state Superior Court overturned his conviction Thursday.

The court unanimously rejected arguments that Lynn was legally responsible for an abused boy's welfare. Defense lawyers had argued that the 62-year-old Lynn was convicted under a law passed years after he left his post at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Defense lawyers hoped for his immediate release from state prison. The appeals court instead sent the bail issue back to the trial court.

Prosecutors have vowed to oppose bail and challenge the ruling.