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Judge Keeps Charges against Catholic Bishop Who Didn’t Report Porno-Priest
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While charges and stories of priests abusing children have been surfacing and being suppressed across the country for decades, a criminal prosecution of clergy engaged in cover-ups is rare. Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic leader facing criminal charges in connection with alleged child sexual abuse.

Bishop Finn is charged for failing to report a priest who kept pornographic pictures of girl children under the diocese on his computer. The defense of Bishop Finn argued that charges against him be dropped as he had no duty to report to the authorities of the alleged abuse by another priest. But, Jackson County Circuit Judge John Terence rejected the arguments and held that Bishop Finn had a duty to report after church officials found pictures of naked girl children on the computer of Father Shawn Ratigan.

The judge held, “The court finds that the evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law.”

  
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Church officials first discovered the lurid photos on Father Ratigan’s computer in December 2010, and then they took months looking at the pictures and deciding whether the offense was sufficient to report to the police or not. When the church officials confronted Ratigan in 2010, he tried to commit suicide, but failed.

Then church officials sent Father Ratigan to Bishop Finn for psychological assessment and for order to stay away from children. Bishop Finn could not make up his mind whether he should turn in Father Ratigan or not, and ultimately the police was tipped off by another church official in May 2011, after more than five months had passed from Ratigan being exposed. Ultimately prosecutors charged Ratigan with 13 counts of child pornography based upon recovered evidence, and he is now in jail awaiting trial.

However, as indicated by evidence, and as alleged by the parents of victims, Father Ratigan continued to take pornographic photographs of young girls connected to the diocese until shortly before his arrest, and he was able to do so because Bishop Finn chose neither to notify the parents, nor to notify the police.

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Both Bishop Finn and the Diocese were indicted by a grand jury in October for failing to report Ratigan. Both pleaded not guilty, and on Thursday, the defense lawyers had their arguments of ‘no liability’ shredded by the court.

When the media tried to contact the Diocese, spokeswoman Rebecca Summers chose silence in “deference to the solemnity of Holy Week.”



The case is State of Missouri v. Finn in the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court, no. 1116-CR04467.



 

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