Kansas City, Mo., Catholic bishop indicted

Catholics pray during the Way of the Cross procession over the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City on April 22, 2011.
Daniel Barry

Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Finn and his diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., have been charged with failing to report suspected child abuse, The Associated Press reports.

Finn and other diocese officials did not tell police that they’d found child pornography belonging to Father Shawn Ratigan until five months later, the AP reports, in violation of Missouri state law.

According to the indictment, Finn and church officials saw “hundreds of photographs of children on Father Ratigan’s laptop, including a child’s naked vagina, upskirt images and other images focused on the crotch,” the New York Times reports.

Ratigan was charged this spring on three state child pornography counts, according to the AP.

It’s the first time a Catholic bishop has been indicted in the 25 years since the scandal over sexual abuse by priests first became public in the United States, the New York Times reports.

“I’ve done my best to make sure that this was a fair process,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at a press conference announcing the misdemeanor charges Friday afternoon, the Kansas City Star reports. “This has nothing — nothing — to do with the Catholic faith. This is about the facts of the case, nothing more. This is about protecting children.”

According to the New York Times:

The case has generated fury at a bishop who was already a polarizing figure in his diocese, and there are widespread calls for him to resign. Parishioners started a Facebook page called ’”Bishop Finn Must Go” and circulated a petition.

Bishop Finn and lawyers for the diocese have pleaded not guilty.