Today Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to report suspected child abuse. "The fact that this is a misdemeanor 'should not diminish the seriousness of the charge,'" according to the prosecutor. This is the first time a U.S. Catholic bishop has been indicted for such a crime. David Gibson wrote about this troubling casehere andhere.
Finn has acknowledged that he and other diocese officials knew for five months about hundreds of disturbing photos of children on a computer used by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, but did not take the matter to police. The diocese also faces one count of failing to report suspected child abuse.
The diocese has issued a statement denying any criminal wrongdoing on the part of the bishop and the diocese. Given Finn's knowledge of the images, it sounds like his lawyers have their work cut out for them.