Failing to report sex abuse convicts first US Bishop

Bishop Robert Finn is the first US Catholic bishop to be convicted of a misdemeanour for failing to report suspected child abuse.

Finn, the Bishop of Kansas City – St Joseph, Missouri has been sentenced to two years probation and will not serve any jail time, nor pay a fine.

The offence carried a maximum of one year’s prison and a $1,000 fine.

Judge Torrence acquitted Finn of a second count, saying the prosecutors had not met their burden of proof.

Finn apologised in a statement provided to CNA. “I regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused. The protection of children is paramount. Sexual abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.”

In pledging to take “every reasonable step” to protect children from abuse, Finn said he is “pleased and grateful” that the court and prosecutor allowed the matter to be concluded.

However calls for Finn’s resignation have intensified after the verdict became public and unhappy Catholics began discussing how to remove Finn from office on a Facebook page “Bishop Finn Must Go“.

“How on earth do you trust him to be ‘shepherd’ [to] any flock….It is not about forgiveness, forgive him if you so choose. It is about accountability. The lack of action by Vatican Officials cannot be any clearer,” wrote Mark Crawford.

“Every parishioner of his diocese should protest and not attend church until he resigns. Let an empty church show your message,” Ryan McHale wrote.

Shelli Lange commented. “As Clint Eastwood said recently, “When someone doesn’t do the job, we’ve got to let them go”. Seems to apply here as well.”

The charges against Finn stemmed from the child pornography case of the Fr Shawn Ratigan. Finn, along with other Church officials, knew about photos on the priest’s computer but didn’t turn him in for six months.

Finn also acknowledged he was told in December 2010 about the images and that the parish school principal had raised concerns about Ratigan’s behavior around children in May 2010.

Finn argued he should not face charges because at the time he was not the diocese’s mandated reporter under the law. That responsibility lay with diocese’s Vicar General.

A computer technician reported child pornography images found on Ratigan’s laptop computer to the diocese in December 2010.


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