Bishop Finn Guilty: Diocese Escapes Responsibility

Today, Jackson County Judge John Torrence found Bishop Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph guilty on one count of failing to report child abuse. Bishop Finn’s trial arises out of his own actions and the Diocese’s actions surrounding the December 2010 discovery that a Diocesan priest, Rev. Shawn Ratigan, produced child pornography with young parishioners of the Diocese.

This verdict follows the disturbing report last week that when Bishop Finn was first alerted by a Diocesan staffer about the child pornography found on Shawn Ratigan’s computer, he reacted by merely saying, “boys will be boys.” As a further indication of the Bishop’s callous indifference, Bishop Finn and the Diocese sat on this crucial information and did not report it to law enforcement for six months.

For Finn’s key role in protecting a known child predator to the detriment of children in the Diocese, Judge Torrence sentenced him to two-years of suspended probation with eight conditions. This sentence is light given that Finn was facing a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Bishop Finn is the highest ranking Catholic official in the U.S. to be criminally prosecuted for protecting predator priests. Judge Torrence should therefore be applauded for his willingness to bring further accountability and justice on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, charges against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph have been dropped. A complete public reckoning of the Diocese’s shameful actions, as detailed in The Graves Report, is yet to come.
Gregg Meyers is an attorney and advocate working with survivors of clergy sexual abuse at Jeff Anderson & Associates.