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BISHOPS: Prelate found guilty of abuse cover-up

In a landmark case, a bishop has been found guilty of shielding a pedophile priest, with the judge yet to rule on the diocese's guilt.

BISHOPS: Prelate found guilty of abuse cover-up
Joshua J. McElwee
United States

September 7, 2012

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For the first time in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis, a Catholic bishop has been found guilty of criminally shielding a priest who was a threat to children. Bishop Robert Finn, the head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese, received the verdict Thursday on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse in the case of a local priest who had been known to be in possession of lewd images of children. Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge John Torrence gave Finn a two-year suspended sentence of probation on the charge with nine conditions, including mandating direct reporting of future suspicions of child abuse to prosecutors. “Let the world know that no matter who you are you can be held to the same standards as everybody else,” said Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker following the verdict. Finn and his diocese had each faced two separate misdemeanor counts of failure to report suspected child abuse for their handing of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a Kansas City priest who pleaded guilty in August to federal charges of producing and attempting to produce sexually graphic material of minor girls. While Ratigan was arrested in May 2011 on the child pornography charges, prosecutors had argued that both Finn and the diocese should have reported Ratigan to police as early as December 2010, when they acknowledge becoming aware of lewd images of children on his laptop. Prosecutors had separated the charges against Finn and the diocese into two timeframes: December 16, 2010, to Feb. 10, 2011; and Feb. 11, 2011, to May 18, 2011. Handing down his verdict less than an hour after the trial started, Torrence said he did not have enough evidence to convict Finn during the first timeframe but that evidence “exceeds that which would be necessary” to prove that the bishop “knowingly failed to report” possible abuse during the second. On that charge, continued Torrence, “the defendant is guilty.” Full Story: First bishop found guilty in sex abuse crisis Source: National Catholic Reporter
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