Bishop Found Guilty in 1 of 2 Charges
By Michelle Pekarsky
September 6, 2012
Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty of one misdemeanor charge and not guilty of another in a Jackson County Circuit Court on Thursday.
Finn was found guilty of failure to report suspected child abuse and not guilty on another failure to report child abuse charge by Judge John Torrence in connection to the case of former Northland Priest Shawn Ratigan.
Finn, 59, was sentenced to two years probation, which was suspended. He will also have to attend a mandated sexual abuse reporter training program, and implement an FBI sex-abuse reporting training course for clergy.
He will also have to establish a $10,000 fund for counseling services for victims.
“What has happened today is a clear and ringing victory for the victims,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in a statement. “It’s a good result, a just result.”
Baker says that the victims’ families were pleased with the verdict, saying that the finding of guilt helps protect children and continued anonymity for the victims.
Ratigan was found guilty earlier this summer of child pornography charges after investigators found lewds photographs of children on his computer.
On Thursday evening, Finn released the following statement through the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese:
I am pleased and grateful that the prosecutor and court have allowed this matter to be concluded. The protection of children is paramount. Sexual abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. Diocesan process and procedures in place at the time did not adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children’s Division of Shawn Ratigan’s behavior in a more timely manner. For this I am truly sorry.
I have provided for the establishment of an independent Ombudsman to report any known or suspected abuse by any clergy, employee or volunteer of the Diocese as required by law. I also have established the Diocesan Director of the Office of Child & Youth Protection to develop and implement any policies in this regard. I will pledge, both personally and in my capacity as Bishop, to take every reasonable step to protect children from any abuse or misconduct perpetrated by clergy, diocesan employees or volunteers. I regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused. I appreciate this opportunity to express my commitment and that of the Diocese to continue working cooperatively with law enforcement authorities and the community to resolve these issues.
On Wednesday, Finn and the diocese agreed to allow a judge to decide their guilt or innocence rather than a jury, which will avoid a lengthy and public trial. It was scheduled to begin Sept. 24.