KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Roman Catholic bishop of Kansas City, Robert Finn, and the diocese he leads have been indicted by a county grand jury on a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse in the case of a priest who had been accused of taking lewd photographs of young girls.Read the full story HERE.
The indictment is the first ever of a Catholic bishop in the 25 years since the scandal over sexual abuse by priests first became public in the United States.
Bishop Finn is accused of covering up abuse that occurred as recently as last year — almost 10 years since the nation’s Catholic bishops passed a charter pledging to report suspected abusers to law enforcement authorities.The bishop has acknowledged that he knew of the existence of the photos last December but did not turn them over to the police until May.
The indictment was announced on Friday by the Jackson County prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker. It had been under seal since Oct. 6 because the bishop was out of the country. He returned on Thursday.“This is about protecting children,” Ms. Baker said.
The bishop and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were charged with one count each, a misdemeanor.
Bishop Finn appeared in court at 1 p.m. and pleaded not guilty, as did lawyers for the diocese.
Bishop Finn said in a statement, “We will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”
He said that he and the diocese had given “complete cooperation” to law enforcement. He also pointed to steps he had taken since the scandal first became public, which included commissioning a report to look into the case, and reinforcing procedures for handling allegations of abuse.
The priest accused of taking the lewd photos, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, was arrested in May and has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls, most recently during an Easter egg hunt last spring.
His case prompted a civil lawsuit filed in August that asserts that between December 2010 and May 2011, Father Ratigan attended children’s birthday parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted the Easter egg hunt and presided, with the bishop’s permission, at a girl’s First Communion.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Breaking news: Kansas City bishop indicted
From a breaking New York Times story:
Posted by Mary DeTurris Poust at 3:40 PM