Posts Tagged priest

Catholic Bishop Criminally Charged with Ignoring Priest with Kiddie Porn

By Attorney David Engler

It is a first in our country for a Catholic Bishop to be charged with failure to report a priest who was suspected of at least harboring child pornography. The Kansas City Prosecutor’s office charged the Bishop because he knew or should have known the Priest had ‘kiddie’ porn saved on his laptop. The Bishop denied the charges and plans to fight the allegations. The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City was also named in the indictment.

The same laws exist across the country. The idea is that if you know of a crime against children you should report it. The laws also recognize the idea that if you provide a dangerous environment for a child then you can be convicted of child endangering. An example of a dangerous environment could be a room utilized for the abuse of a child, on your premises, while purportedly under your supervision.

In Trumbull County, Ohio, located in the Northeast corner of the State, a 13 MONTH old child was alleged to have been sexually abused by her parents during a supervised visitation while on the actual agency’s premises! The parents are being held, each on a million dollar bond and both face tremendous sentences. The local prosecutor, who also represents the Agency, has not yet announced a criminal investigation of the Agency but has simply endorsed an independent review.

Governments and their lawyers have a hard time with the concept that even when your motivations are pure, it is critical to the public that there not exist even the appearance of a conflict or impropriety. Especially where negligence may have occurred.

In an earlier blog post I had mentioned the cloak of infallibility that governments often adopt.(Couple Molest Child During Supervised Visit at Agency) The government lawyers feel that if you question the bureaucrats, (in this case, Trumbull County Children Services) then you are saying that person’s motivation must not be pure. These same government attorney insinuate that such questions are not designed to arrive at the truth.

The Trumbull County controversy is like that in Kansas City, but there, the Prosecutor sought a criminal investigation against the Diocese. It is ultimately healthy for both institutions, the Diocese and the Government to examine the criminal culpability of harboring a Priest it knew was at the very least involved with child pornography.

In the Trumbull county case the Agency knew or should have known that the alleged molesting father had a juvenile history of sexual abuse against children. They should have known that the Mother was willing to do whatever the Father asked. And then of course, there is the issue of it being what was called a ‘supervised’ visit, that apparently wasn’t! The Agency might say it was not foreseeable. I think it was obvious.

More about the Kansas City case as reported in the Washington Post: “Bishop Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic official charged with covering up the sexual abuse of children since the scandal erupted in Boston in 2002.

“As far as we know this is the first time a bishop has been indicted on this type of charge,” said Mar Munoz-Visoso, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Last February, Monsignor William Lynn, the former vicar for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was charged with endangering the welfare of children for allowing “dangerous” priests to remain in parishes, according to a grand jury indictment.

The charges against Bishop Finn represent a major setback for efforts by the U.S. bishops and the Vatican to put the scandal behind them.

Instead of focusing on what the church has done to change its policies to protect children, church leaders will be forced to answer questions about how they police one of their own.

According to the indictment issued by a Jackson County grand jury on Oct. 6, Bishop Finn and the diocese had “reasonable cause” to suspect that the Rev. Shawn Ratigan had subjected children to abuse.”

The victim in the Ohio case has no advocate. The agency entrusted with her care, allowed a room for abuse to exist at its own building. Not a single person has stepped forward yet to acknowledge the agency’s direct failure and potential criminal conduct. That is a shame.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777 Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal


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