September 7, 2012 in Nation/World

Bishop guilty of shielding priest

Bill Draper Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Bishop Robert Finn in court on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.
(Full-size photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The first American bishop criminally charged in the clergy sex abuse scandal was found guilty Thursday of a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse, a conviction that extends the struggle of Roman Catholic leaders to restore trust in the church.

Bishop Robert Finn was acquitted on a second count.

Finn received two years of probation, but that sentence was suspended and will be wiped from his record if he adheres to a set of conditions that include mandatory abuse reporting training, setting aside $10,000 in diocese money for abuse victim counseling, and instructing all diocesan agents to report suspected criminal activity involving minors.

Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were each charged with two misdemeanor counts of failing to report suspected child abuse to the state. Prosecutors said they dropped charges against the diocese, and the judge is expected to sign off on that today.

The bishop, dressed in his traditional black garb, sat calmly throughout the hearing, even as he heard the verdict. He apologized before being sentenced, saying, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events have caused.”

The charges stemmed from the child pornography case of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, in which Finn and other church officials knew about photos on the priest’s computer but didn’t turn him in for six months.

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