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Kansas City diocese should pay $1.1 million for violating its own abuse policies, arbitrator rules

July 01, 2014

The Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, must pay an additional $1.1 million to sex-abuse victims for failing to follow its own policies on sex-abuse complaints, an arbitrator has ruled.

In 2008, in a settlement with sex-abuse victims, the diocese had promised to follow new guidelines for reporting sex-abuse allegations to local authorities. In accepting the settlement, Bishop Robert Finn assured the public that “there will never, ever be a repeat of the behaviors, the offenses, or the claims that have been associated with this matter.”

However, in 2010 the diocese failed to inform police that a local priest, Father Shawn Ratigan, had been found in possession of hundreds of images of children in sexual poses. Ratigan eventually entered a guilty plea to child-pornography charges, and was sentenced to a 50-year prison term. The Ratigan case alone has now cost the diocese $3.75 million in settlement costs, not including the new arbitration award.

Hollis Hanover, a court-appointed arbitrator, ruled that by failing to report Ratigan promptly, the diocese had violated had violated the terms of the 2008 settlement with abuse victims, and the original plaintiffs had grounds to renew their suit, seeking a larger monetary award. Instead, he noted, they had “opted to seek damages for these noted breaches,” and he assessed the $1.1 million figure. Hanover was highly critical of the diocese, saying that he hoped “that I am dead wrong in my opinion that this Diocese as presently constituted will not mend its ways.”

The arbitrator’s result, issued in March, became public on June 30. The Kansas City diocese, arguing that the arbitrator went beyond the scope of his authority, has asked the court to vacate the order.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Jul. 01, 2014 10:28 PM ET USA

    I challenge people to read what this so-called "arbitrator" wrote in his decision. One excerpt read like some anti-Catholic screed from a 19th-century Know-Nothing pamphlet ... This is the reality and persecution we face in the Catholic Church today. If you are "glad" about this judgment or think it was a good ruling, you truly have your head in the sand about what is really going on today.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 01, 2014 3:15 PM ET USA

    Good things are happening in KC. Bishop Finn is one of the bright spots. Unfortunately, this is where we are today. Our faith is a gift. Our Church is a gift. Our baptism is a gift. It is not that we cannot appreciate these realities. We can and we must. It is imperative that our priests do so as well and that their formation is conducted appropriately. There is human nature no doubt. But as these stories continue to show painfully; there is something very much wrong with this picture.

  • Posted by: 1Jn416 - Jul. 01, 2014 2:51 PM ET USA

    I am glad to see this judgment and hope that the Court upholds it. Too many bishops and chancery officials will not take clerical misconduct seriously until enough of them face criminal charges or it is too expensive. This sort of judgement is a wake-up call to U.S. bishops to take their policies seriously.