Bishop Finn agreement seems to indicate prosecution’s weak case
Kansas City, Mo., Nov 17, 2011 / 05:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A county prosecutor’s agreement with Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph is a sign of the weakness of the charge that the bishop illegally failed to report suspected child sex abuse, a Missouri lawyer says.
The prosecutor of Clay County, Missouri is “reluctant” to follow the lead of the prosecutor in Jackson County because “he wasn’t going to have a successful prosecution,” St. Louis attorney Michael Quinlan suggested.
“The prosecution is avoiding a risky trial, and the bishop is avoiding what would be a less risky trial, but certainly a tremendous expense and bad publicity and all the terrible things that go along with that,” said Quinlan, who is not involved in the case.
“I would have thought that this would suggest to the prosecuting authorities in Jackson County that they might step back from the brink, but I don’t know whether it will have that effect or not.”
In Quinlan’s view, the possibility of a conviction is “slim” and the relevant statute “simply does not apply to the circumstance.”
“I think a fair minded jury should and would conclude that, there being no abuse victim, there could be no requirement to report,” he told CNA on Nov. 16.
Jackson County prosecutors have indicted Bishop Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on one misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected abuse of minors by a priest who faces child pornography charges.
Prosecutors in neighboring Clay County, however, have reached a five-year agreement with the bishop.
Under the agreement’s terms, the bishop must meet face-to-face with the Clay County prosecutor Daniel L. White each month for the next five years to discuss any allegations of child sex abuse against clergy or diocesan staff within the diocese’s facilities in the county. Bishop Finn must also describe what steps the diocese has taken to address any allegations.
White would then decide whether to encourage police to investigate any allegations.
The bishop also agreed to visit all nine parishes in Clay County to outline new programs that the diocese is implementing to protect children. The diocesan ombudsman and a new director of child and youth protection will accompany the bishop at the meetings.
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