Bishop Robert Finn convicted of shielding priest who pleaded guilty to child-porn charges

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Bishop Finn was given two years of probation, but the sentence was suspended.
  • Bishop Finn was given two years of probation, but the sentence was suspended.
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn was convicted Thursday of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. Presiding over an hourlong bench trial, Judge John Torrence found Finn not guilty of a second charge. Finn was given two years of probation, but Torrence suspended the sentence. If Finn completes his probation, the conviction will be removed from his criminal record. The conviction makes Finn the highest ranking Catholic Church official in the country to be found guilty of a charge related to a sex-abuse scandal.

Finn was charged in the wake of a scandal surrounding priest Shawn Ratigan. Sexual images of young girls were found on Ratigan's laptop computer in late 2010. The diocese knew of the images on the computer for several months before telling authorities. Ratigan pleaded guilty in August but hasn't been sentenced yet.

Finn had been scheduled for a jury trial. But Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says the bench trial saved the victims' families the pain of testifying. The New York Times reports that Finn told the court, "I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused."

His quasi-apology and sentence weren't enough to satisfy groups advocating on behalf of abuse victims.

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition released a statement saying, "The sentence handed down in Bishop Finn’s trial today is a tap, not even a slap, on the wrist. Unsupervised probation amounts to a walk. We believe Bishop Finn should be jailed for failing in his duty as a mandatory reporter in the child pornography case of Shawn Ratigan. Bishop Finn should not seek to slide off, shrug off, or duck responsibility in this case. He should resign."

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which is currently embroiled in a legal battle with a former priest who is facing lawsuits over alleged abuse, also called for jail time.

"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, SNAP's outreach director.

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