For the first time in the history of the United States, a Catholic bishop is facing criminal charges.
A Grand Jury in Jackson County, Missouri has indicted Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report child abuse. The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was also indicted.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced the charges at a news conference Friday.
“On or between Dec. 16 of 2010 and May 11 of 2011 in the County of Jackson, state of Missouri, the defendant was a mandated reporter and had reasonable cause to suspect a child may have been subjected to abuse due to the following things: Previous knowledge of concerns regarding Father Ratigan and children, the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on Father Ratigan’s laptop including a child’s naked vagina, upskirt images and images focused on the crotch area in violation of restrictions that were placed on Father Ratigan,” Baker explained.
“I can assure you that this has nothing to do with the Catholic faith. This is about the facts of this case, nothing more. And this is about protecting children.”
If convicted, Finn faces a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. The diocese also faces a $1,000 fine.
Earlier this year, federal officials filed child pornography charges against Rev. Shawn Ratigan. A recent investigation by the diocese found that church officials knew about the inappropriate photos but did not report it as required by Missouri law.
Even after Ratigan was reassigned from St. Patrick Catholic Church to an Independence mission house, a federal indictment said that he tried to take pornographic photos of a 12-year-old girl.
Ratigan faces 13 federal counts including production, attempted production and possession of child porn. At least three civil lawsuits have also been filed against Ratigan.
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Oct. 14, 2011.