The Kansas City, Missouri Catholic Diocese and Bishop Robert Finn have been criminally charged with failing to report another clergyman’s suspected child abuse, a state prosecutor said.
“Finn and the diocese -- between Dec. 16, 2010, and May 11, 2011 -- had reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be subjected to abuse,” by Father Shawn Ratigan, said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in a statement today citing the indictment.
Ratigan in August was indicted by a U.S. grand jury in Kansas City on charges he sexually exploited five children, using them to produce child pornography. Charged with 13 criminal counts, he has pleaded not guilty.
Images of the children were found on Ratigan’s computer in December, Peters Baker said today. Officials in the diocese turned over additional information to the police in May.
Finn and the diocese, through its attorney, entered pleas of not guilty today in appearances before Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence, said Mike Mansur, a spokesman for Peters Baker.
“We will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense,” Finn said in a statement issued jointly with the diocese and their counsel, in which they denied criminal wrongdoing.
“Months ago after the arrest of Shawn Ratigan, I pledged the complete cooperation of the diocese and accountability to law enforcement,” Finn said. “We have carried this out faithfully. Diocesan staff and I have given hours of testimony before grand juries, delivered documents, and answered questions fully.”
Finn and counsel for the diocese are schedule to appear in court again for a scheduling conference on Dec. 15, Mansur said.
“The fact that this is a misdemeanor count should not diminish the significance of the case,” the state prosecutor, Peters Baker, said. “I want to ensure that there are no future failures to report resulting in other unsuspecting victims.”
Finn’s lawyer, J.R. Hobbs of Kansas City’s Wyrsch, Hobbs & Mirakian PC, didn’t immediately reply to an e-mailed request for further comment. Former federal prosecutor Jean Paul Bradshaw, who is representing the diocese, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message.
Announced today, the county grand jury’s indictment was returned on Oct. 6.
Ratigan has asked the court to postpone his schedule Oct. 24 trial. A scheduling conference in that case is set for Oct. 19.
The state case is State of Missouri v. Finn in the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court (Kansas City). The federal case is U.S. v. Ratigan, 11cr169, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Kansas City).
--Editors: Mary Romano, Glenn Holdcraft
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