Bishop Finn, diocese plead not guilty to failure to report child abuse
Published: October 17, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) -- Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which he heads, entered pleas of not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse. The charges, brought by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in relation to the diocese's handling of the case of Father Shawn Ratigan, were acknowledged in an Oct. 14 statement on the diocesan website. "Bishop Finn denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor's office" and the independent commission appointed by the diocese to study the matter, said Gerald Handley, the bishop's attorney. "We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter." Bishop Finn said in a statement after diocesan attorneys entered the pleas in court that he "will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense." The charge against Bishop Finn carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. The diocese faces a fine of up to $5,000. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, had no comment on the indictment. Diocesan spokeswoman Rebecca Summers told Catholic News Service Oct. 17 that Bishop Finn carried out a full schedule of activities over the weekend, including participating in a fundraising event attended by 500 people, Mass and confession at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and a meeting with senior staff. Father Ratigan was arrested in May on state charges of possessing child pornography. In August, federal prosecutors charged him with producing child pornography. The priest, a former pastor, also is facing accusations made against him in two separate lawsuits filed this summer. The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Bishop Finn also have been named in the civil suits, which accuse both of failing to keep Father Ratigan away from children apparently after learning disturbing images were found on the priest's computer and being warned of the priest's inappropriate behavior around children.
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