US bishop guilty of failing to report sex abuse

CHICAGO — Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty of failing to report suspected child abuse, becoming the highest-ranking US Catholic Church official convicted in clergy sex abuse scandals.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John Torrence issued the ruling in Kansas City, Missouri after Finn, 59, declined to fight the charges and instead agreed to a stipulated finding of facts in the case.

Finn will not serve jail time or pay a fine for the misdemeanor charge. He was instead placed on probation, which requires him to ensure the diocese trains staff and clergy to detect and report abuse, as well as create a $10,000 fund for counseling abuse victims.

The ruling comes weeks after Monsignor William Lynn was sentenced to up to six years in prison for covering up child sex abuse by priests in Philadelphia.

Lynn, a pastor and secretary of clergy for the archdiocese, was the highest-ranking US church official convicted of covering up child sex abuse allegations prior to Finn.

Torrence dismissed a second misdemeanor charge pending against Finn, as well as two other misdemeanor charges pending against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

A leading victims advocacy group slammed the decision to fast-track the case and spare Finn more serious punishment.

"Only jail time would have made a real difference here and deterred future horrific cover-ups, anything less will not produce any meaningful reform," said Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"The Catholic hierarchy is notoriously secretive. When they backslide again it will be hard to catch them, everyone involved must be hyper vigilant if kids are truly to be safe."

Prosecutors, however, hailed the ruling as a "cle...

 

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followed this page 2012-09-08 18:40:52 -0500
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