September 6, 2012
A Jackson County Judge on Thursday found Bishop Robert W. Finn guilty of the misdemeanor charge of Failure of a Mandated Reporter to Report, related to the Diocese's oversight of Father Shawn Ratigan in 2010 and 2011.
Judge John Torrence issued the ruling after parties in the case agreed to and submitted to the judge stipulated findings of face in the case.
Finn, 59, appeared Thursday before Judge Torrence, who pronounced Finn guilty on one count and gave the defendant an SIS, suspended imposition of sentence. Finn will not pay a fine or serve jail time. But he was placed under probation for two years, to be supervised by Torrence.
The probation has numerous conditions, including: Report to Judge Torrence; ensure mandated reporter training for administrative staff and clergy; ensure training of teachers, principals and others in detecting child pornography, child obscenity and signs of grooming; direct a new $10,000 fund for counseling of abuse victims; and issue under his signature specific instruction that all Diocesan agents, including clergy, teachers and counselors, report suspected criminal activity involving minors.
Torrence dismissed a second misdemeanor charge against Finn, as well as two other misdemeanors pending against the Diocese.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker issued a press statement following the court proceeding:
"What happened today is a clear and ringing victory for the victims," Baker said. "It's a good result, a just result."
Baker acknowledged victims in the case.
"Much has been written, reported and discussed about this case," she said. "But teh personal trauma of the victims and their families has too often been forgotten or pushed aside.
"Nearly a year ago, I stood before you and told you that this case had nothing to do with the Catholic faith, that this case was about the facts and about protecting children," she said. "Today's result shows we upheld that pledge. This has been about protecting children."
Baker said the victims' families were pleased to hear the outcome. "Tehy agreed that this result achieved two key things -- a finding of guilt that helps protect children and continued anonymity for these young victims."