Bill Donohue, judge & jury.
The Catholic League president’s latest defense of Bishop Finn outlandishly claims that “in an ideal world, there would have been no charges whatsoever: there was no complainant and no violation of law.” Of course, as Mark Silk points out, whether there is a complainant is irrelevant because Missouri law requires mandatory reporters such as Bishop Finn to inform civil authorities “immediately” when they have “reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.” A Jackson County grand jury believes Finn should have not have waited to inform the police about the lewd images of children that had been found in Fr. Shawn Ratigan’s possession. That’s why they’ve charged the bishop and the diocese with a class A misdemeanor of “failure of mandated reporter to report.”
Not that Donohue needs to wait for a jury to decide the case. No, he already knows Finn is “an innocent man.” You can tell he really means it because he flew to Missouri to stage a rally in support of Finn outside the offices of the Kansas City Star (Donohue is not the newspaper’s biggest fan). Apparently Donohue and the dozens gathered for the rally are not bothered by implications of Finn’s agreement with neighboring Clay County — a tacit admission that, nearly a decade after Dallas, the bishop still hadn’t been doing enough to keep kids safe.
Does Donohue even grasp the point of mandatory-reporting laws? Back to Mark Silk:
[Donohue apparently thinks] a mandatory reporter could only be charged with failure to report a suspicion of child abuse after an alleged victim has come forward, lodged a criminal complaint as well as informing the reporter, and the complaint has been determined to be true.
The whole point of a mandatory reporting law is to provide the authorities with information that enables them to prevent or put a stop to child abuse as soon as possible. If mandatory reporters cannot be prosecuted for failure to report reasonable suspicions unless an alleged perpetrator is actually found guilty, they will be under less pressure to call him to the attention of the authorities — and having failed to do so, will acquire an additional incentive to keep him from being brought to justice. That’s Donohue’s ideal world.
N.B.: What can be said of Donohue’s ugly jab at abuse-victims advocate David Clohessy? Donohue alleges that Clohessy “refused to call the police in the 1990s when he learned that his own brother was a child molester.” Donohue concludes, “It is Clohessy who belongs in jail.” There are bishops (like Archbishop Dolan and Cardinal O’Malley) who publicly endorse and may help to fund Donohue’s operation (who knows? Maybe Finn is one of them). Is this the sort of thing they want to be associated with?