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Bishop avoids charges in agreement

Nov. 16, 2011 at 3:16 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Bishop Robert Finn, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., avoided possible misdemeanor charges in an agreement with prosecutors.

Finn agreed Tuesday to meet with the Clay County prosecutor monthly for the next five years to discuss any allegations of child sex abuse against clergy or diocesan staff within the diocese's Clay County facilities, The Kansas City Star reported.

Finn is to say what steps the diocese has taken in response to the allegations, and the prosecutor would decide whether to encourage police to investigate.

The bishop, who had been the highest-ranking Catholic official in the United States to face criminal prosecution in a child sex abuse case, also agreed to visit all nine Clay County parishes to describe new diocesan programs to protect children.

Authorities said they will not prosecute Finn if he abides by the agreement.

A grand jury indictment last month said Finn and the diocese failed to report the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on the laptop of a priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, from Dec. 16, 2010, to May 11, 2011, when a diocesan official reported them to police.

Clay County Prosecutor Daniel L. White also announced Ratigan, 46, has been indicted by a grand jury on three counts of possession of child pornography.

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