US bishop convicted in sex scandal

2012-09-07 12:00

Chicago - Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty on Thursday of failing to report suspected child abuse, becoming the highest-ranking US Catholic Church official convicted in clergy sex abuse scandals.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John Torrence issued the ruling in Kansas City, Missouri after Finn, aged 59, declined to fight the charges and instead agreed to a stipulated finding of facts in the case.

Finn will not serve jail time or pay a fine for the misdemeanour charge. He was instead placed on probation, which requires him to ensure the diocese trains staff and clergy to detect and report abuse, as well as create a $10 000 fund for counselling abuse victims.

The ruling comes weeks after Monsignor William Lynn was sentenced to up to six years in prison for covering up child sex abuse by priests in Philadelphia.

Lynn, a pastor and secretary of clergy for the archdiocese, was the highest-ranking US church official convicted of covering up child sex abuse allegations prior to Finn.

Torrence dismissed a second misdemeanour charge pending against Finn, as well as two other misdemeanour charges pending against the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph.

Pleasing outcome

A leading victims advocacy group slammed the decision to fast-track the case and spare Finn more serious punishment.

"Only jail time would have made a real difference here and deterred future horrific cover-ups, anything less will not produce any meaningful reform," said Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"The Catholic hierarchy is notoriously secretive. When they backslide again it will be hard to catch them, everyone involved must be hyper vigilant if kids are truly to be safe."

Prosecutors, however, hailed the ruling as a "clear and ringing victory for the victims", who they said were pleased with the outcome.

"They agreed that this result achieved two key things - a finding of guilt that helps protect children and continued anonymity for these young victims," Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said.

"We can be assured now that if an allegation of child abuse comes to the attention of the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph, there will no hesitation to report it immediately to the proper authorities."

Hundreds of photos

Teachers at St Patrick's Catholic School had initially reported concerns about the delinquent priest, Father Shawn Ratigan, in May 2010.

Finn spoke to Ratigan about his concerns with the priest's "boundary issues" but did not pursue it further, even though pair of girls' underwear was found in a planter in Ratigan's backyard.

A computer technician also discovered a picture of a little girl's vagina on Ratigan's laptop in December 2010.

Further investigation revealed hundreds of photos of young girls - many of them "upskirt" shots that appeared to have been taken while they were playing or sleeping, including some showing a girl's panties being slowly removed.

But instead of reporting the discovery to the police, parish officials consulted a lawyer. When the lawyer suggested the images were not child pornography, Finn sought help from a psychiatrist, who said Ratigan was not a risk to children.

A parish priest eventually reported the case to police in May 2011.

  • ianon.ym - 2012-09-07 12:10

    Good, however he's just one of many.

      Spiral - 2012-09-07 13:15

      sadly, true.

  • sharon.houghton.984 - 2012-09-07 12:21

    I should imagine plenty of his new friends will be seeing his private parts very often and hopefully they use and abuse him!!!

  • horace.spector - 2012-09-07 12:46

    How any-one can still follow the archaic Catholic religion is beyond me!?

      jody.beggs - 2012-09-07 13:02

      Any religion is archaic ! Please people read the buy bull from cover to cover , we need more atheist's ! The Buy Bull , converting xians to Atheist's. Damn the man.

  • cathy.dejongh.5 - 2012-09-07 12:51

    And the pope insists this dungheap he's in charge of smells divine.

  • zaatheist - 2012-09-07 12:53

    The Catholic religion is way past its sell by date and is nothing more that world-wide criminal organisation specialising in paedophilia and extortion of money from the poorest of the poor. I believe in freedom of religion but not when an organisation is patently a self-serving criminal enterprise.

      jody.beggs - 2012-09-07 13:03

      The Pope , "The Love of Money is the root of all evil so give it all to me !" Idjit....

      klipkop.degroote - 2012-09-07 13:30

      spot on.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-07 13:36

      The time has come to divert, some of the hundreds of millions US $ , spend yearly, to fight the drug cartels, to fight these RC paedophiles. Paedophilia is far worse than drugs; Drugs kill, while paedophiles destroy whole lives !!!!!

  • Morgoth - 2012-09-07 13:06

    Dum-Dum-Dum Another one bites the dust. Dum-Dum-Dum Another one bites the dust. And another one gone, another one gone, Another one bites the dust! Hey-ye-heeeeee-hheee-eheeee-eeeh.

      Morgoth - 2012-09-07 13:22

      Sorry to have offended Queen Fans!

      arthur.hugh - 2012-09-07 13:34


  • arthur.hugh - 2012-09-07 13:20

    If there wasn't any religion there'd be less child abuse.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-08 13:27

      . Possibly But For starters, let these RC priests marry, even if they want to get marrired to each other, And one will have less RC priests, put their dirty filthy hands in children's underpants!!!

  • klipkop.degroote - 2012-09-07 13:32

    Roman Catholic Church of Satan.

      jody.beggs - 2012-09-07 16:33

      That still implies god is real , but he's not ...

  • CaptainGaza - 2012-09-07 13:35

    I agree, this deluded nutjob got off way too lightly. Religion does seem to blind one from logic and common sense, even the courts don't seem immune to its evil influence.

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