On Friday, a Kansas City county grand jury indicted St. Joseph Catholic Diocese and its bishop, Robert Finn, for failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest in possession of child pornography. Bishop Finn is accused of covering up the abusive behavior of Reverend Shawn Ratigan, who was arrested in May on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls. This is the first indictment of a bishop in 25 years.
The indictment states that Finn had “previous knowledge of concerns regarding Father Ratigan and children; the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on Father Ratigan’s laptop, including a child’s naked vagina, upskirt images and other images focused on the crotch; and violations of restrictions placed on Father Ratigan.” Bishop Finn admitted to knowing of the existence of the photos since last December, although he did not turn them in to the police in May. Despite the allegations, Bishop Finn admits to no wrongdoing, stating that the diocese “will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”
According to the New York Times, three years ago, Bishop Finn agreed to settlements in lawsuits with 47 plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases totaling $10 million, in addition to agreeing to adopt a long list of preventive measures, among them to report anyone suspected of being a pedophile immediately to law enforcement authorities.
Media Resources: Associated Press 10/14/11; New York Times 10/14/11