Part 4: Diocese announces plan to deal with sexual misconduct
Diocese announces plan to deal with sexual misconduct
By GLENN E. RICE
The Kansas City Star
The Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese today announced changes that include the appointment of former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves to deal with recent alleged sex misconduct in the diocese.
Bishop Robert W. Finn said the first five points of a sweeping plan include the appointment of Graves to conduct an independent investigation regarding the allegations of a priest charged with possessing child pornography.
In addition, Graves will lead a review of the diocesan ethical code of conduct and sexual misconduct policies.
Finn also said an independent public liaison and ombudsman would be appointed to field and investigate any reports of suspicious or inappropriate behavior.
The diocese said it would continue to cooperate with local law enforcement.
“These are initial steps,” Finn said in a statement. “Other actions are forthcoming.”
Graves, who is not Catholic, said he was approached by the diocesan officials earlier this week to head the independent review.
“I am eager to do it,” he said. “They want to make this a model diocese for the rest of the country.”
From 2001 to 2005, Graves served as the national co-chair of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation Working Group.
As U.S. Attorney, Graves established state and federal task forces to investigate exploitation of children on the internet and played a key role in having a regional computer forensics laboratory located in Kansas City.
Throughout his career, Graves has been at the forefront in enforcing laws against those who abuse children, diocesan officials said.
In recent weeks, the diocese has come under sharp criticism after the Rev. Shawn F. Ratigan was charged last month with possessing child pornography.
Ratigan, 45, of Kansas City, North, is charged in Clay County with three counts of possessing child pornography – photos taken while working for churches and schools in the area. Ratigan has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody, with bond set at $200,000.
A week ago, the diocese announced that Finn has removed another priest from his duties because of “credible reports” of sexual misconduct with minors.
David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he doubts the five-point plan would bring about change.
“It is like giving cold mediation to a cancer patient,” Clohessy said. “Policies and procedures don’t protect kids. Decisive action protects kids and that is still lacking.”
But Finn said the review would bring clarity out of the “shame, anger, and confusion.”
“In addition to our ongoing and full cooperation with law enforcement, this review will help us to determine the effectiveness of diocesan policies and procedures in a very troubling situation,” Finn said in the statement.
At the conclusion of the review, Graves would issue a report that will be released to the public.
Diocesan officials said the review is expected would take between 30 to 45 days.
Once done, Finn said he pledged the complete cooperation of all diocesan personnel.
To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNAP responds to KC bishop’s latest promises
For immediate release: Thursday June 9
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com
These are boilerplate public relations maneuvers, plain and simple. We predicted them weeks ago. It is what nearly every bishop does when he’s caught red-handed endangering kids and hiding crimes.
Finn is trying to exploit the generosity of forgiving Catholics while blaming church policies for his repeatedly irresponsible decisions. This is a carefully crafted ploy to divert attention away from callous moves by Finn and Murphy onto meaningless diocesan guidelines that are rarely followed to begin with.
We are not dealing with a problem that requires “awareness.” We are dealing with a handful of monarchs who keep ignoring the law, moving the predators, concealing the crimes, endangering children, and protecting themselves, first and foremost.
No priest molests a child – and no church supervisor conceals the crimes – because of an inadequate code of conduct or “abuse policy.”
Finn continues to pretend that his carefully considered self-serving choices are just policy loopholes that need tightening. His words today are not “sweeping,” they are deeply disingenuous.