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Bishop Finn found guilty on criminal charge

September 06, 2012

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri, has been found guilty of failing to report evidence of sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese.

After a brief bench trial, Judge John Torrence pronounced the bishop guilty on one of two misdemeanor charges, acquitting him of the other charge. Bishop Finn thus becomes the first American bishop convicted of a criminal offense for mishandling sex-abuse complaints.

Judge Torrence sentenced Bishop Finn to two years of probation, suspending the sentence. If the bishop completes his probation, his conviction will be stricken from the record.

Before sentencing, Bishop Finn offered a simple apology for his role in the case. “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events caused,” he said. Lawyers for the bishop had agreed with prosecutors to forego a jury trial, which was scheduled to begin later this month. Instead they opted for a quick trial before the judge, allowing for an immediate verdict and sentencing.


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  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Sep. 07, 2012 2:32 PM ET USA

    Piling on?? Come on. Viewing child pornography is a crime. There is no wriggle room for that. And what a limp "apology". Christ never told us to apologize, he told us to ask forgiveness when we have done wrong. This is further evidence that the bishops just don't get to yet.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 06, 2012 8:52 PM ET USA

    Before piling on and condemning Bishop Finn, be careful of the issues here. This was not a case of abuse, but of a report of what a priest had accessed on his computer [kiddie porn]. Who made the complaint? How official was it and did it rise to the level of a "credible accusation"? Would it have justified forcibly searching the priest's rooms and taking his hard drive for inspection? Could such action have been permitted either by civil law or by canon law and the Dallas Charter? No easy answer

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 06, 2012 7:42 PM ET USA

    "Before sentencing, Bishop Finn offered a simple apology for his role in the case. 'I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events caused,' he said." Unfortunately, the legal repercussions are far from over, but Bishop Finn has acted in a way consistent with that of a Christian. In this unfortunate legal precedent, his example today- including the laconic sincere apology- sets a worthy precedent for prelate comportment. Life is not always fair, but we must learn from him nonetheless.

  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Sep. 06, 2012 6:42 PM ET USA

    I hope Bishop Finn learns from this experience that sexual deviancy from any priest must not be tolerated in any circumstances. He should now begin to remove all homosexuals from his diocesan clergy and clamp down hard on the use of computers by his priests.