Bishop Found Guilty of Covering Up Abuse

For the first time in American history, a Catholic bishop has been convicted for failing to report evidence of a priest’s sexual abuse of children. Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City diocese was convicted after failing to report to police the fact that a priest in his charge had hundreds of child porn images on his computer. Unfortunately, there is almost no punishment attached to the conviction:

Judge John Torrence immediately sentenced Finn to two years’ of probation, then suspended the imposition of the sentence. That means that if Finn finishes the probation without incident and completes nine steps as part of his sentence, the bishop’s criminal record will be expunged.

Finn had faced a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each charge. The diocese had faced a fine of up to $5,000 on each of its two counts if convicted.

So pretty much a slap on the hand. And nothing will happen to the current pope, who gave explicit instructions to his church that they were to handle all such situations internally and not report them to the police.

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  • d cwilson

    It’s a shame Paterno’s dead. This is exactly the kind of precedent that could have been used against him.

  • Doesn’t he even have to say ten Hail Mary’s???!?!?1?one!

  • It’s a shame Paterno’s dead. This is exactly the kind of precedent that could have been used against him.

    And the precedent for the same kind of sentencing.

    Instead of the draconian thing that the NCAA handed down.

    Luckily for Finn there is no hell. Also, wishes do not come true, otherwise he’d be hit by a bus on his way out of the courtroom and in traction for the rest of his life.

    In South Sudan.

  • Stevarious

    So pretty much a slap on the hand

    Hey, now, be fair. There was also a very firm finger-waggle!

  • It may be a slap on the wrist, but it does establish a precedent of accountability for enablers.

  • Finn and the diocese had been scheduled to start a jury trial in less than three weeks, but in a surprising move Wednesday, the matter was reset for trial in front of Torrence.

    Smells like a sub rosa plea deal to me.

  • rickl

    Hi Ed,

    Can you document your comments that the current pope explicitly told his bishops to handle all sex abuse cases internally and to not go to the police? The best that I can document this is a from the Irish Times who reported a letter from 1997 telling the Irish bishops not to report matters to the police as their child abuse scandal was starting to become open knowledge, but that would have been the previous pope.

    Official vatican documents posted in 2003, in regards to the child abuse atrocity, tell bishops to follow all secular laws regarding notifying authorities about child abuse cases. Has something come out since 2003 to contradict what the vatican publicly stated, and that can be attributed to Emperor Palpatine/ “pope benedict?”

    In regards to the kansas bishop, it’s about time. Fancy words promising change are just lips flapping unless true change actually occurs.

  • Moggie

    Torrence said Thursday that, as part of Finn’s probation, he will be required to strengthen training for clergy and administrators on child abuse reporting and recognition of child pornography.

    Two thoughts:

    1. Why does he get to keep his job?

    2. If you need training to recognise child pornography, you need to stay the fuck away from children.

  • tbp1

    It’s a start. A very small, stumbling start, to be sure, but a start.

  • naturalcynic

    The wrist-slapping should be done by 1950’s era nuns. Sister Mary Margaret, the bishop has been a very bad boy.

  • Taz

    Two years probation sounds familiar. I wonder if the judge admonished the kids that if they hadn’t gone to church, none of this would of happened to them.

  • Randomfactor

    a letter from 1997 telling the Irish bishops not to report matters to the police

    Wasn’t the current Pope heading the Inquisition office at that time?

  • Artor


    I think Randomfactor has it right. I don’t have the link, but the order you found went through Ratzinger’s office while he was “Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” i.e. Chief Inquisitor. I think it has his signature or seal on it.

  • jws1

    @ #3: So your for handslapping when it comes to covering up child molestation? I guess this is the conservative part of me talking here: I say harshly over-punish those have covered up child rape, as the alternative has much worse consequences.

    Also, Fuck Penn State and their oblivious sheep. What a fantastic university with such an unworthy legion of slavish devotees.

  • The wrist-slapping should be done by 1950′s era nuns. Sister Mary Margaret, the bishop has been a very bad boy.

    I still have some of the welts …

  • whheydt

    Re; #8 (Moggie)

    He gets to keep his job because his boss didn’t fire him. Which leads me to say…

    Shouldn’t all RCC clergy (and especially the bishops) be required to register with the State Department as agents of a foreign power (since Vatican City, whose head of state is the pope who appoints them, is a sovreign state)?