Catholic bishop convicted of shielding priest

Bishop Robert Finn was sentenced to two years probation for failure to report suspected child abuse.

Story highlights

  • Bishop is highest-ranking Catholic official sentenced during sex abuse scandal
  • Robert Finn failed to immediately report a priest involved in child pornography
  • The priest, Shawn Ratigan, pleaded guilty in August
  • Trial by judge protected the children from having their names disclosed

A judge in Kansas City, Missouri, has sentenced a Catholic bishop to two years on probation for failure to report suspected child abuse, officials said Thursday.

Bishop Robert W. Finn, 59, is the highest-ranking Catholic official to be convicted during the church's long sexual abuse scandal.

Finn won't serve any jail time or pay a fine, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney's office said. The misdemeanor charge had a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of as much as $1,000.

One other misdemeanor against the bishop and two against Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were dropped.

The case stemmed from the diocese's slow dealing with Shawn Ratigan, a priest from Independence, Missouri, who pleaded guilty in August to five charges of child pornography.

Missouri priest accused of taking sexually explicit photos of kids

Prosecutors said it took nearly five months for church officials to notify police that disturbing images of children had been found on Ratigan's computer.

During that time Ratigan continued to work for the church.

"I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events have caused," Finn said, according to CNN affiliate KCTV.

Terms of Finn's probation include starting a $10,000 fund for sexual abuse counseling and mandatory training for church officials on how to report abuse.

"We can be assured now that if an allegation of child abuse comes to the attention of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, there will be no hesitation to report it immediately to the proper authorities," Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a written statement.

The case was tried by a judge instead of by jury because prosecutors wanted to protect the young victims' anonymity.

Kansas City bishop indicted on child endangerment charge