Cops & Crime
Thu April 5, 2012
Bishop's Bid Fails, Child Sex Charges Stand
Bishop Robert Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese will proceed to trial in September. The clergyman and the institution have lost a bid to have charges against them dismissed.
The issues are not that complex, said Judge John Torrence in his ruling in Jackson County Circuit Court. The misdemeanor criminal charges contend there was failure to immediately report suspicions of child sex abuse by a priest.
Charges allege more than a year elapsed between first time computer photo files came to attention of the diocese and time police were told.
Although the charges are criminal misdemeanors, the case is significant. It is first time someone as high ranking as a bishop has been accused in a court case in recent history of Catholic Church sex abuse scandals.
Lawyers for the bishop also argued he was not personally responsible to report to authorities. The judge said evidence would let a jury conclude Finn was designated to report suspicions.
Judge Torrence also ruled there will not be separate trials.
Defense lawyers expressed disappointment with the rulings. Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker said her office will continue toward trial.
The defense took away one victory, quashing of a subpoena as part of the criminal investigation.