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First Sitting U.S. Bishop Criminally Charged

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Kansas City bishop guilty for not reporting sex abuse

Robert Finn is the first sitting U.S. bishop criminally charged for covering up sex abuse

Bishop Robert Finn, of Kansas City, Mo., leaves a meeting at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore last November.

Kansas City Catholic Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty Thursday of one count of not reporting sex abuse; he was found not guilty on a second count.

He is the first sitting U.S. bishop criminally charged for covering up sex abuse in the church.

A Jackson County Court judge heard arguments from the prosecution and defense and delivered a verdict from the bench after a 30-minute recess.

Bishop Finn was accused of failing to report suspected child abuse to authorities in the case of Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who was charged with taking indecent pictures of children.

Ratigan pleaded guilty to five counts of producing child pornography in federal court.

Last month, Ratigan pleaded guilty to five counts of producing child pornography in federal court. Eight other counts were dismissed.

Finn spoke briefly to the court after the verdict was reached and said he was sorry. The judge gave him a suspended sentence of two years of probation and required him to undergo training for reporting suspected abuse.

The diocese was also charged with failure to report, but the cases were separated early Thursday. Prosecutors said they would drop charges against the diocese after the Finn verdict, but the judge was not expected to rule on that issue until Friday.

Lawyers for Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released the following statement after the verdict:

“Bishop Finn is grateful that the court and prosecutor have allowed this matter to be resolved. This could have been a lengthy and emotionally difficult trial for all persons affected. The bench trial, with a stipulation of testimony, has avoided the need for live testimony from diocesan employees, parishioners and others. This process has also resulted in the charges against the Diocese being dismissed by the state. The diocesan process and procedures as previously existed failed to adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children’s Division of Shawn Ratigan’s behavior in a more timely manner. For this, the bishop is truly sorry.”

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