A Tale of Two Grand Juries and One New Law Suit
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 06:21:59 PM EST
Catholic Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has for some time, had evidence problem. He apparently withheld from police specific evidence implicating a pedophile priest for five months, and failed to come forward until the priest was arrested.  What's more Finn had been warned about the priest a year earlier.

And now that evidence, along with the testimony of Finn, and that his Vicar, Monsignor Robert Murphy, went before a Clay County grand jury and a similar panel in Jackson County, both focusing on child sexual abuse issues.

The National Catholic Reporter recently reported on Bishop Finn's mess, and illustrated how little has changed over almost a generation. Here is an excerpt from NCR's reporting:

Here's how The Kansas City Star reported the new development:
"Allegations that a priest has molested a child can no longer be kept secret within the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph [Mo.]," according to a policy approved by Kansas City's Catholic bishop.

"The new policy on sexual misconduct -- at 29 pages, about five times thicker than the old one -- spells out the diocese's legal obligation to report to state investigators cases involving alleged victims under age 18 ..."

According to The Star, the new policy is the work of a panel of laypersons assembled by the bishop "about 10 months ago, when he proclaimed "zero tolerance" toward clergy and other diocesan personnel who were found to have abused children."

The issue flared up last year, The Star when Jackson County's prosecutor criticized the diocese for refusing to provide names of parishioners who had accused a priest of caressing boys.

"I believe this diocese is taking the right steps," the prosecutor told The Star. "It's very important for allegations of this kind to be reported, because other children's safety could be at stake."

"Allegations against at least three priests in the diocese have become public in the last two years," The Star reported.

Sound familiar? It should. It's a familiar pattern.

Except that in this Star story, the bishop is Raymond Boland, not Robert Finn. The prosecutor is Claire McCaskill, not Jean Peters Baker. And the year is 1994, not 2011.

In 2008 the Diocese entered into a settlement agreement with forty-seven sexual abuse victims. As part of the settlement, the Diocese was also required to put into place a series of procedures for reporting instances of sexual abuse.  But Bishop
Finn's failure to take decisive action with regard to Father Ratigan has placed him on the hot seat.  A panel appointed by Finn himself reviewed the diocese's behavior and provided no comfort. As the National Catholic Reporter reported, citing the key finding, "individuals in positions of authority reacted to events in ways that could have jeopardized the safety of children in diocesan parishes, school, and families."

Bishop Finn's legal problems have suddenly gotten a lot bigger. Beyond the two grand jury investigations, the Associated Press reported that forty-two of the signatories of the 2008 settlement have filed a complaint for specific performance (no money damages):

The 12-page suit filed Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court accuses the diocese and Bishop Robert Finn of "breach of contract." As part of a $10 million group settlement reached three years ago with 47 victims of clerical sexual abuse, the diocese agreed to 19 reforms. They include reporting any suspicions that children were being placed in danger.

The suit, filed by 42 of the victims, said that didn't happen and that diocesan officials knew for five months about troubling photos of girls on a computer used by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan and did not formally notify authorities. Ratigan has pleaded not guilty to several child pornography charges.

Bishop Finn, who has apologized for his lack of leadership, it is worth recalling that this  is the same cleric who called for Catholicism to be "the Church militant" in its approach to curtailing abortion rights.  His legacy as a leader will have instead, turned his Diocese into "the Church negligent" for his having failed to protect children under his own charge from an alleged abuser.

There is a concept in the law known as constructive notice. Simply put, walking around for a long time with a note in your pocket about a priest with a penchant for the improper touching of young girls -- as Bishop Finn admittedly had done -- fits the definition to a tee.

Last June The Kansas City Star called for the bishop's resignation, noting, "shattered moral guidelines." If anything, that is an understatement. Catholics both within and beyond the bishop's diocese are fed up with this continued lack of accountability. Perhaps it is not only time for him to go, but time for him to go jail.




Display:
He should be.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 06:23:47 PM EST
But I doubt it's the last we'll hear of Finn.

by Hirador on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 10:15:16 PM EST
Parent


You might want to check out this Facebook page. Sunday a post was made about a whistleblower from this diocese's office who has brought suit for wrongful dismissal--she offered her special expertise to help with this case--the allegation is that higher-ups got spooked and after interesting events, her services were no longer required. The suit filed Thursday by abuse survivors does not seek monetary damages, just to enforce the settlement conditions. Ms. Mara's whistle-blower lawsuit, however, does. Perhaps the fear of his diocese in bankruptcy is the only thing that will motivate a Bishop in the RCC to give evidence of child sexual abuse to the police even on Priests, scarce as they are.

by arachne646 on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 12:37:25 AM EST

There may not be any change until we see more prosecutions of clerical personnel and bishops. The hierarchy and their defenders would predictably say that religious freedom is at risk, which is complete nonsense.

by khughes1963 on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 12:34:11 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Why Is Bishop Robert Finn Still In Power?
As I reported in September 2014, Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has been under Vatican investigation to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (0 comments)
Thus It Was Prophesied in 2012: Ted Cruz Will Be VP, Or a Supreme Court Justice
This is a transcript, of pastor Larry Huch and Rafael Cruz, father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, from an appearance Rafael Cruz made at......
By Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Crusin with Cruz
Ted Cruz threw his hat into the ring, announcing his bid for President in the worship center at Jerry Falwell's University last night.  Mother......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Ted Cruz: Born From The Heart of the Dominionist Christian Right
[welcome, Thom Hartmann Show fans, here is a short introduction to my past coverage on Ted Cruz and the dominionist Christian right] Did you......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Coming Soon to Utah: An International Festival of Bigotry
An international network of some of the world's most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Bumpy Lane: Religious Right Operative Seeks To Build (Another) Church-Based Political Machine
Here's what the country doesn't need right now: another zealot aiming to mobilize right-wing pastors to become a force in electoral politics.Yet that's what......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
American ISIS: Christian Reconstructionists And `Biblical Law' In America
Every now and then, while scanning the day's news, I come across a headline that's hard to believe.Like this one: "California lawyer proposes ballot......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
Will our Prisons Overflow with Christians this Summer?
Many leaders of the Christian Right, from megachurch pastors like Rick Warren to the top prelates in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Say You Want A Christian Nation?: Let's Try This One
Last week an article began circulating on social media claiming that 57 percent of Republicans in a recent poll said they believe Christianity should......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
Are The Fundamentalists Winning?
We missed Evolution Weekend, which was held February 13-15 this year.   This worthwhile effort, which began the same year as Talk to Action,......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Mario Cuomo's Memorable Lesson on Challenging the Political Authority of the Church
It is never too late to remember. Here is a reposting of a column I did following the death of former New York Gov.......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Legacy of Francis Bellamy
"We assemble here that we, too, may exalt the free school that embodies the American principles of universal enlightenment and equality; the most characteristic......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
The Inquisitional Urge Gets the Better of Bill Donohue (Again)
Bill Donohue is at it again. The Catholic League president went apoplectic over President Obama’s seemingly innocuous comments at the February 5th National Prayer......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
John Dorhauer Recommended to Lead United Church of Christ
I am very pleased to report that John Dorhauer, who joined us early on at Talk to Action has been recommended by a national......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)

Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (8 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (1 comment)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.