The Kansas City Star reports:
Bishop Robert Finn on Tuesday avoided a possible criminal misdemeanor indictment in his handling of a priest facing child pornography charges by agreeing to enter into a diversion program with the Clay County prosecutor.Authorities have pledged not to prosecute Finn, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, if he lives up to the terms of a five-year diversion agreement.
(Of course, Finn and the diocese are still on the hook in Jackson County, where both parties have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspected child abuse.)The terms are rather strict. Finn has agreed to meet with the Clay County prosecutor in person once a month for five years. At those meetings, Finn will report any allegations against clergy or church employees within Clay County, and explain how the diocese has responded to the accusations. In addition, Finn will visit all parishes in Clay County to inform parishioners about new programs he's put in place to protect minors. At each of those meetings, the bishop will be joined by a new, yet-to-be-hired director of child and youth protection--and a diocesan ombudsman.A key part of the agreement commits Finn to using "all reasonable resources" to identify children in photos or videos uncovered during a sexual-abuse investigation--something the diocesan officials failed to do in the case that brought charges against Finn.So now the child-protection policies of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph will be overseen to a significant degree by civil authorities.Perhaps Bishop Finn isn't quite as concerned as his colleagues are about state threats to religious freedom.