Friday, October 14, 2011

#Kansas #US #Bishop charged with failing to report abuse

Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph have been indicted with by a Jackson Co. grand jury.

Both parties were charged with the two misdemeanor counts of  "Failure of Mandated Reporter to Report" in relation to the case of  Fr. Shawn Ratigan. 

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Bakers said the charges are not about the Catholic faith, they're about protecting children.

"The defendant was a mandated reporter, and had reasonable cause to suspect a child may be subject to abuse," said Peters Baker

It is the first time that a U.S. bishop has been indicted in connection to such a case.

DOCUMENTS | Read the full indictment

The indictment said that Diocese and Finn had "reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be subjected to abuse due to: previous knowledge of concerns regarding Fr. Ratigan and children; the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on Fr. Ratigan's laptop, including a child's naked vagina, upskirt images and other images focused on the crotch; and violations of restrictions on Father Ratigan."

The charges were filed on October 6, 2011.

According to a news release from the diocese, "Jean Paul Bradshaw and Tom Bath, counsel for the diocese, entered a plea of not guilty for the diocese. According to Gerald Handley and J.R. Hobbs, counsel for Bishop Finn, the bishop also entered a plea of not guilty."
Handley, Finn's attorney, said in the release that "Bishop Finn denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor’s office, and the Graves Commission. We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter.”
Finn released the following statement:
“Months ago after the arrest of Shawn Ratigan, I pledged the complete cooperation of the diocese and accountability to law enforcement. We have carried this out faithfully. Diocesan staff and I have given hours of testimony before grand juries, delivered documents, and answered questions fully.
”More importantly, to address the issues that led to this crisis, I reinforced and expanded diocesan procedures. We added the position of ombudsman, effectively moving the ‘gatekeeper function’ outside the Chancery and under the authority of an independent public liaison, a skilled and experienced former prosecutor. I commissioned the Graves Report to accomplish a full independent investigation of the policies and events that led to this crisis. I ordered the report to be published in its entirety for the sake of full transparency.
” Today, the Jackson County Prosecutor issued these charges against me personally and against the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph. For our part, we will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.
” I ask the prayerful support and unity of our priests, our people, the parishes, and the Catholic institutions. With continued dedication, we will persevere in the many good works that are the hallmark of the faithful people of the diocese throughout its 27 counties and nearly 150-year heritage. With ever stronger determination, we will form, teach, and protect children and care for the spiritual and material needs of people who look daily to the diocese for assistance.
” With deep faith, we will weather this storm and never cease to fulfill our mission, even in moments of adversity."


Finn, 58, has led the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph since May of 2005 as the sixth bishop of the diocese.   Prior to that, Finn served as a Catholic priest for 26 years. 

He graduated from St. Louis Preparatory Seminary, Cardinal Glennon College, North American College in Rome and St. Louis University finishing with Master’s degrees in Theology and Education Administration.

Finn has a number of roles beyond just leading the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.  He is the consultant to the Pro-Life Secretariat and the Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He also is president of the Institute on Religious Life and a board member of the John Paul II Institute for Stem Cell Research. 

Finn’s troubles began in 2008 when a group of 47 people alleged clergy within the diocese sexually abused them.   The allegations also included that church leaders had knowledge of the abuse but did not report it or act on it.  Victims alleged cover-ups on the part of Finn and the other Catholic leaders. 

The Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph settled with that group for $10 million dollars.  Beyond the monetary commitment, the diocese agreed to 19 promises to reform the way abuse allegations are reported, processed and handled.

That suit named at 10 clergy members.  The allegations stem from events that occurred between the 1950s and the 1980s.

Attorney Rebecca Randles, a co-counselor on the case broke down the claims against each member of the clergy:  Bishop Joseph Hart (6), Msgr. Thomas O'Brien (24), Fr. Thomas Reardon (22), Fr. Hugh Monahan (8), Fr.

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