Friday, September 07, 2012

Missouri Bishop Convicted Of Failing To Report Suspicion of Child Abuse

Yesterday in Kansas City, Missouri, a state court judge after a brief non-jury trial convicted Catholic Bishop Robert W. Finn on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspicion of child abuse (MRS 210.115). According to the Kansas City Star, this makes Finn the highest ranking U.S. Catholic cleric convicted in the Church's sex abuse scandals.  The charges grew out of the Church's discovery in December 2010 of hundreds of lewd photos of young girls on the laptop computer of of priest Shawn Ratigan. Police were not notified until May 2011. Finn was convicted on a charge covering the period from Feb. through May 2011, while he was acquitted on a second charge covering an earlier period of time. Finn was sentenced to two years' probation. If he complies with all the conditions, his criminal conviction could then be expunged.  Those conditions include strengthening training for clergy and administrators on child abuse reporting and recognizing child pornography; creating a $10,000 victim counseling fund; drawing up an approved list of treatment providers; and maintaining an ombudsman. Originally Finn's case had been set for a jury trial, but prosecutors and defense attorney instead yesterday submitted 69 paragraphs of stipulated facts in a bench trial. In exchange for his cooperation in the case, authorities agreed not to prosecute second-ranking diocese official, Monsignor Robert Murphy, who ultimately reported suspicions to the police.