Bp. Finn (D. KC – StJ) to work with prosecutor on oversight agreement

Some fact checking might be in order, given the source, but from the not-very-objective KC Star comes this:

Bishop Finn avoids indictment by entering diversion program
The Kansas City Star

Bishop Robert Finn today avoided facing a criminal misdemeanor indictment in his handling of a priest facing child pornography charges by agreeing to enter into a diversion program with the Clay County prosecutor. [NB: county, not federal.]
Authorities have pledged not to prosecute Finn, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, if he lives up to the terms of a five-year diversion agreement. [I take it that this means Bp. Finn or the Diocese.]

Clay County Prosecutor Daniel L. White also said that a grand jury indicted the Rev. Shawn F. Ratigan on three counts of possessing child pornography. The new indictment supersedes a state criminal complaint that charged Ratigan on May 19. Ratigan, 46, also faces a 13-count federal indictment of possessing, producing and attempting to produce child pornography. He remains in federal custody.


Finn’s agreement with Clay County requires him to meet face-to-face each month with White for the next five years to discuss any allegations of child sex abuse levied against clergy or diocesan staff within the diocese’s Clay County facilities. Finn also is to describe what steps the diocese has taken to address the allegations. White would then decide whether to encourage police to investigate any allegations.Finn also agreed to visit all Clay County parishes to outline new programs the diocese is implementing to protect children. In those meetings, Finn will be accompanied by the diocesan ombudsman and its newly appointed director of child and youth protection.

“This will be a learning experience for the Bishop,” White said in a statement. [A bit condescending, but this the KC Star picking the quotes.] “The diocese and the bishop acknowledge past reporting systems have flaws.” He said having an outsider in the mix who can trigger a criminal investigation “gives parents and children in our community confidence that if anything were to happen it would promptly and effectively address.”

Finn, who was in Baltimore this morning attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall conference, issued a written statement saying he was “grateful for this opportunity to resolve this matter and to further strengthen our diocesan commitment to the protection of children.

[…]Finn’s meetings with White mirror the kind of reporting requirements that are common to most diversion agreements.

Generally under diversion programs, the defendant must complete a prescribed period of service, study or treatment to avoid prosecution. If the defendant fulfills the terms of the agreement, the authorities drop the criminal charges.

Diversion agreements are not unusual. Authorities in both Clay and Jackson counties have approved more than a thousand diversion agreements for participants in drug court programs. And at times, prosecutors will approve diversion agreements with domestic violence defendants to ensure that they attend counseling programs mandated by the court.


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