Protests Continue Over Priest’s Reinstatement Following Child Porn Revelations
In September 2012, Bishop Robert Finn was convicted of a single misdemeanor of failing to notify law enforcement of suspected child abuse. Finn and his diocese failed to disclose that obscene pictures of kids had been discovered on a laptop owned by Father Shawn Ratigan, a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City in December 2010. Ratigan was ultimately handed a 50-year prison sentence.
When sentenced, Ratigan told the judge, “I hope you won’t sentence me to hell on earth. Prison is hell and I deserve 15 years? Come on. I don’t think so.”
Finn received two years probation and then retired from his position as bishop in April 2015.
In December 2015, Bishop James Conley, of Lincoln, Nebraska, declared that he would be inviting Finn to serve as chaplain for a convent.
“He [Finn] has a religious role, in an adult setting, which he has undertaken in humility,” Conley said.
As the priest for the School Sisters of Christ the King, Finn leads Mass, listens to confessions and works as a spiritual advisor to the nuns living in the convent.
First Priest Indicted
Finn was the first American priest indicted for not reporting suspected child abuse to law enforcement promptly.
Finn had learned in December 2010 that Ratigan had child porn on his laptop which involved children in the Kansas City diocese. Finn removed Ratigan from the school but failed to report the images until five months later. By then, Ratigan had made more photographs of another young girl in the diocese.
“It wasn’t that he failed to report it,” Flynn said of Finn. “It was how and when — the way he reported it didn’t meet the legal statutes.”
In the face of withering criticism, Conley defended his move allowing Bishop Robert Finn, to accept the position of chaplain for a community of religious sisters. Conley said that justice for Finn “has been served.”
“The church is committed to protecting our people,” Conley told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “We will do that without continuing to punish those who have met justice’s demands.”
Protesters including some high-profile Nevada lawyers continue to call for Finn to be removed from his post at the convent. Members of SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests — say Finn should be defrocked and not hold the power or prestige associated with his new position.
Protesters are demanding Conley:
- Transfer Finn from his station
- Candidly disclose why he employed Finn — and ask forgiveness
- Expose whether he is “bringing in other offending clerics” into the diocese.
SNAP members Judy Jones and Steven Spaner from St. Louis said the diocese deputies were involved in supporting sufferers, but they were not given a sign that Finn would be transferred or defrocked. The diocese holds the position that Finn was punished for his blunder and should be shown mercy.
“First, he didn’t make a ‘blunder,’,” said Jones. “He brazenly carried out deliberate decisions to put his vocation before the welfare of kids and the well-being of victims.”