Victims pan plea deal with Kansas City bishop
Initially, Finn was the first bishop to face criminal charges for concealing suspected abuse. Then, he was the first bishop to undergo questioning by two grand juries. Now, he's become the first bishop to face criminal charges in two jurisdictions. And, he's now the first bishop to be charged with two separate child-safety related crimes: refusing to report suspected abuse in Jackson County and endangering the welfare of a child in Clay County.
Given this, it's tempting, but reckless, to believe that Finn's the real problem here. He isn't. He's just the public face of a much more widespread, deep seated and intractable problem. And because the problem is far broader and deeper than any one man, the solution must be broader and deeper too.
That's one reason we're disappointed in this announcement today - it implies that Finn is the main, or only, wrongdoer here. But several top church staff - Msgr. Robert Murphy, Rebecca Summers (diocesan public relations staffer), Jon Haden (diocesan lawyer), Julie Creech (Diocesan Director of Information Management Systems) and who knows how many others knew of Ratigan’s very troubling behavior around kids and those very disturbing naked and inappropriate photos of young girls’ private areas. Yet none of them had the decency or courage to call 911. And none of them are being held responsible.
So the problem in KC is a pervasive and on-going cultural and structural problem of secrecy and self-preservation being valued over openness and kids’ safety. It’s not one ‘bad apple.’ It’s a dangerous, corrupt barrel. That was the case and remains the case.
We’re also disappointed because Finn has now done here what bishops have almost always done - make any promises, payment or plea deal to avoid having to face tough questions in open court about their disgraceful and irresponsible deception
Catholics, citizens and children need and deserve the truth. The truth surfaces in court. That’s what bishops work overtime to avoid. And that’s what Finn has achieved here - he’s taken the cheap, easy, convenient way out, avoiding real scrutiny and concealing damaging misdeeds.
We hope Jackson County officials don’t wimp out. We hope they understand that jail time, or the threat of it, is the best way to deter well-educated white collar criminals who have hidden crimes for years or decades.
Historically, bishops have always been given special treatment in situations like these and are treated with kid gloves are far as punishment is concerned. Historically, these bishops have gone on to put more children at risk after “successfully” completing “diversion.” So we’re disappointed that a chance to send a strong message about kids safety and expose wrong doing and deter cover ups is being squandered.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.