Victims of Catholic Church sex scandal gather to show their resolve

By Shannon O'Brien

July 2, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The victims of Catholic Church sex scandals gathered Wednesday in front of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph offices to let Bishop Robert Finn know that they will not stop in their quest to keep children safe from sexual abuse by clergy.

In 2008, 47 victims of sexual abuse sued the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. A 19-point contract was the most important part of the settlement to victims, to keep future children safe.

They say the diocese violated the contract, allowing other children to be victimized, and the diocese must again pay up.

“Nowhere on earth have victims achieved what they have achieved here in Kansas City,” said David Clohessy with SNAP.

A 2008 court settlement for $10 million, and a non-monetary commitment by the diocese in the form of a 19-point contract was issued that victims say will protect other children, if it is followed.

“We were very saddened and disappointed by Bishop Finn,” said sex abuse victim Robert Bates. “The Father Ratigan case just, it floored me.”

Victims say two years after the settlement, the diocese, and Bishop Finn, tried to cover up child porn found on then Priest Shawn Ratigan’s computer, instead of reporting it to police.

“It was clear the bishop was not abiding by this contract,” said Clohessy.

The victims took the diocese back to court and an arbitrator slapped it with a $1.1 million penalty, which Bishop Finn asked the court to vacate.

We tried to speak with him, but were told the he was in a meeting.  A spokesperson for the diocese sent us 90 pages of documents, which boils down to the diocese’s contention that the arbitrator’s decision is based on factual inaccuracies or unfounded inferences, and that the 2008 agreement does not allow the arbitrator to award monetary damages more than the original $10 million.

A representative for the victim’s organization SNAP says the diocese has spent about $7 million in legal fees. The victims want Bishop Finn to abide by the arbitrator’s ruling, saying his protest of it makes them feel victimized again.

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