MO - Victims urge "careful deliberation" in bishop's case

  • Victims urge "careful deliberation" in bishop's case
  • It's the 1st time ever Catholic prelate faces jail time
  • Highest ranking church official to ever to stand trial
  • If "guilty," SNAP begs judge to issue maximum sentence

Holding signs and childhood pictures at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will blast Bishop Robert Finn for "fast-tracking" his criminal trial and urge the judge to --avoid rushing the trial and his decision, and give Finn the maximum penalty possible.

10:45 am Thursday, September 6

Outside the Jackson County Courthouse 415 E. 12th (corner of Locust) in downtown Kansas City MO

Three-four child sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including the group's long time executive director, David Clohessy of St. Louis

Kansas City Bishop Robert W. Finn and the diocese of Kansas City will appear in court Thursday for a bench trial on charges they delayed reporting suspicions of child abuse. In a bench trial, evidence is presented to a judge for his ruling as opposed to a jury. The judge is expected to issue a verdict later in the day but victims groups hope the judge will not allow the Finn’s need for secrecy prevent the truth from becoming public.

The charges stem from Fr. Shawn Ratigan’s child porn case, in which church officials knew about photos on the priest’s computer but didn’t turn him in for five months. Finn has argued that he was not the diocese’s mandated reporter under the law — at the time, the responsibility rested mainly with Finn's then-second-in-command, Fr. Robert Murphy — so Finn should not face charges.

SNAP hopes the judge will take his time, with both the trial itself and with his decision. It's to Finn's advantage, SNAP believes, to have a short trial and quick resolution. But the judge should weigh his rulings carefully and deliberately, and not be rushed because of pressure by Finn's lawyers.

SNAP also advocates jail time for Finn, if found guilty by the judge. That's the best way, the organization feels, to deter similar recklessness, callousness and deceit in the future, in the church and in other institutions.

After Ratigan’s arrest, it was revealed that diocesan officials had been warned more than a year earlier about Ratigan’s disturbing interactions with children but took no action to protect youngsters.
Ratigan pled guilty in federal court in August to five counts of producing and attempting to produce child pornography. He still faces pornography charges in Clay County.

David Clohessy, Executive Director
(314) 566-9790

Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director
(314) 862-7688

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant