Bishop, Diocese plead not guilty to indictments

KANSAS CITY — The Jackson County Prosecutor announced Grand Jury indictments surrounding the case of Shawn Ratigan on October 14. The Grand Jury returned misdemeanor indictments against Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Diocese itself. Each was charged with failure to report suspected child abuse, a Class A misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to a one year prison term and $1,000 for an individual and up to a $1,000 fine for a corporation. Attorneys for Bishop Finn and the Diocese both entered pleas of not guilty in Jackson County Court.

The following statements were issued by the Diocese and Bishop Finn on October 14:

Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph today acknowledged receipt of the misdemeanor charges brought by the Jackson County Prosecutor.  Jean Paul Bradshaw and Tom Bath, counsel for the diocese, entered a plea of not guilty for the diocese. According to Gerald Handley and J.R. Hobbs, counsel for Bishop Finn, the bishop also entered a plea of not guilty.

“Bishop Finn denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor’s office, and the Graves Commission. We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter,” said Gerald Handley, counsel for Bishop Finn.

“In response to these charges Bishop Finn said, “Months ago after the arrest of Shawn Ratigan, I pledged the complete cooperation of the diocese and accountability to law enforcement. We have carried this out faithfully. Diocesan staff and I have given hours of testimony before grand juries, delivered documents, and answered questions fully.”

More importantly, to address the issues that led to this crisis, I reinforced and expanded diocesan procedures. We added the position of ombudsman, effectively moving the ‘gatekeeper function’ outside the Chancery and under the authority of an independent public liaison, a skilled and experienced former prosecutor. I commissioned the Graves Report to accomplish a full independent investigation of the policies and events that led to this crisis.  I ordered the report to be published in its entirety for the sake of full transparency.”

Today, the Jackson County Prosecutor issued these charges against me personally and against the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph.  For our part, we will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”

I ask the prayerful support and unity of our priests, our people, the parishes, and the Catholic institutions. With continued dedication, we will persevere in the many good works that are the hallmark of the faithful people of the diocese throughout its 27 counties and nearly 150-year heritage. With ever stronger determination, we will form, teach, and protect children and care for the spiritual and material needs of people who look daily to the diocese for assistance.”

With deep faith, we will weather this storm and never cease to fulfill our mission, even in moments of adversity,” said Bishop Finn.

In addition to full and complete cooperation with all levels of law enforcement, the diocese has taken an array of steps to ensure accountability for the protection of children in diocesan, parish and school programs.

• June 9 – Engaged Todd Graves, a former U.S. Attorney and national co-chair of the Department of Justice Child Exploitation Working Group, to conduct an independent investigation of events, policies and procedures,

• June 22 – Expanded diocesan administration with the appointment of Father Joseph Powers as Vicar for Clergy,

• June 17 – Completed listening sessions with parishioners served by Shawn Ratigan,

• June 30 – Appointed Jenifer Valenti, a former prosecuting attorney, as ombudsman to field and investigate all reports of suspicious or inappropriate behavior by clergy, diocesan personnel and volunteers,

• August 15 – Reviewed requirements for the mandatory reporting of abuse and neglect with more than 925 employees and made the training available by video conferencing to others,

• September 1 – Published the complete findings and recommendations of Graves Bartle Marcus and Garrett.

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  • Jim

    Bishop Finn should resign

  • Rob Kottenbrock

    Can you please investigate how Bishop Finn is funding his defense and the defense of the diocese? Is it coming from diocessan coffers? Insurance? His own personal investments?

    As a member of the diocese, I would like to know and the office has not responded to my request for this information.
    Thank you,Rob

  • Hans Deutsch

    Jim,
    You don’t know what you are talking about. Perhaps the facts should surface before you call for someone’s resignation. Your facts are entirely KC Star driven. Not exactly unbiased reporting.
    Just so you know, there are only 3 Ratigan related cases. The rest are 20 years old and are now being plead as “repressed memory” cases. Are you suggesting Finn fall on his sword for cases where he was no where near the diocese?

    Non-Catholic attorneys familiar with the three remaining cases that caused the prosecutor to file criminal charges were stunned at the baselessness of it. Few are pro-Catholic church. ALL suspect the prosecutor is simply trying to climb the latter to a higher elected position. It’s shameful behavior.

    Now, if you think he should resign because you don’t like his orthodox faith, we are on to an entirely different subject.  

Tuesday
September 16, 2014
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph