Bishop Avoids Indictment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) – Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has agreed to meet monthly for the next five years with a county prosecutor to avoid a possible criminal misdemeanor indictment for failing to report a priest suspected of child abuse.

The agreement was reached with Daniel White, the prosecuting attorney of Clay County. The bishop will meet each month with White and report all instances of suspected child abuse in the diocese.

In mid-October, the bishop and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph entered pleas of not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse brought by the Jackson County prosecutor in the case of Father Shawn Ratigan.

Father Ratigan was arrested in May on state charges of possessing child pornography and charged in Clay County.  In August, federal prosecutors charged him with producing child pornography.

The case has been taken up by grand juries in two counties because the diocese is based in Jackson County and the priest was accused of taking some of the pornographic images in Clay County.

Father Ratigan, a former pastor, also is facing accusations made against him in two separate lawsuits.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Bishop Finn also have been named in the civil suits, which accuse both of failing to keep the priest away from children apparently after learning disturbing images were found on the priest’s computer.