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Examiner
  • Prosecutor explains decision to charge Finn

  • Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker called the decision to file charges against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese and Bishop Robert Finn a difficult one.

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  • Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker called the decision to file charges against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese and Bishop Robert Finn a difficult one.
    “That was a very tough decision to have to make,” Baker said Wednesday at the regular luncheon of the Independence Chamber of Commerce. “When you’re a prosecutor, you don’t get to pick your cases.”
    Even before she accepted questions following her presentation, Baker broached the subject, eliciting some chuckles from the crowd. After the luncheon, Baker acknowledged the significance of the misdemeanor charge of failing to report suspected child abuse. A spokesperson for her office said that there has been much nationwide interest following the announcement.
    “Some people felt that we should have filed felony charges,” Baker said, but added that the misdemeanor charge was significant and would carry weight.
    The charge, filed last week, is the first time in the nation that a Catholic bishop will face criminal prosecution in a child sexual abuse case. Overall, Baker said, people agree with the charge.
    Bishop Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph acknowledged the misdemeanor charge last week, according to a spokesperson for the church. Counsel for the diocese pleaded not guilty for the diocese, and counsel for Bishop Finn also entered a plea of not guilty, according to the church.
    In a statement issued last week, Finn said: “Months ago after the arrest of Shawn Ratigan, I pledged the complete cooperation of the diocese and accountability to law enforcement. We have carried this out faithfully. Diocesan staff and I have given hours of testimony before grand juries, delivered documents and answered questions fully.
    The charges stem from an investigation into Shawn Ratigan, who faces a civil lawsuit, a 13-county federal indictment and three state charges involving child pornography.

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