Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn today became the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official convicted during the church’s decades-long child sexual abuse scandal.
Following a short non-jury trial, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John Torrence convicted Finn of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspicions of child abuse but acquitted him on another count of failing to report.
Torrence sentenced Finn to two years of probation then suspended the sentence, meaning that if Finn completes the unsupervised probation without any new incidents happening, his criminal record will be expunged.
Finn had faced a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each charge. Prosecutors asked for two years of probation. Defense attorneys sought a suspended sentence.
Before being sentenced, Finn told the judge, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events caused.”
He also said, “The protection of children is paramount and sexual abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.”
Though the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph also was to be tried Thursday on the same two counts, Torrence severed the cases shortly after the proceedings opened.
After Finn’s conviction, prosecutors dropped the charges against the diocese, which had faced a fine of up to $5,000 on each charge if convicted.
The charges stemmed from the church’s handling of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, on whose laptop a diocesan vendor found hundreds of lewd photos of young girls in December 2010.
The bishop also released a statement:
I am pleased and grateful that the prosecutor and court have allowed this matter to be concluded. The protection of children is paramount. Sexual abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. Diocesan process and procedures in place at the time did not adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children’s Division of Shawn Ratigan’s behavior in a more timely manner. For this I am truly sorry.
I have provided for the establishment of an independent Ombudsman to report any known or suspected abuse by any clergy, employee or volunteer of the Diocese as required by law. I also have established the Diocesan Director of the Office of Child & Youth Protection to develop and implement any policies in this regard. I will pledge, both personally and in my capacity as Bishop, to take every reasonable step to protect children from any abuse or misconduct perpetrated by clergy, diocesan employees or volunteers. I regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused. I appreciate this opportunity to express my commitment and that of the Diocese to continue working cooperatively with law enforcement authorities and the community to resolve these issues.