Ex-US Attorney engaged as Finn initiates changes

Kansas City-St Joseph Bishop Robert Finn has announced the first immediate five points of a plan to deal with recent alleged sexual misconduct in the diocese.

The diocese said in a statement that further initiatives will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Initial Five-point Plan is as follows:

1. Immediate appointment of former national co-chair of the Department of Justice Child Exploitation Working Group and former U.S. Attorney to conduct an independent investigation of events, policies and procedures,

2. Appointment of an independent public liaison and ombudsman to field and investigate any reports of suspicious or inappropriate behavior,

3. Reaffirmation of current diocesan policy and immediate commencement of an independent review of the policies for Ethical Codes of Conduct and Sexual Misconduct,

4. An in-depth review of diocesan personnel training regarding the Ethical Codes of Conduct and the policy on Sexual Misconduct,

5. Continued cooperation with local law enforcement.

Bishop Finn stated, “These are initial steps. Other actions are forthcoming.”

Former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Todd P. Graves will conduct an independent review of all issues regarding the Ratigan matter, as well as lead an independent and complete review of the diocesan Ethical Codes of Conduct and Sexual Misconduct policies, procedures and training.

From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Graves served as the national co-chair of the Department of Justice Child Exploitation Working Group. As U.S. Attorney, he established state and federal task forces to investigate exploitation of children through the Internet and was instrumental in locating a Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Kansas City. Throughout his career, Mr. Graves has been at the forefront in enforcing laws against those who abuse children.

Bishop Finn said the review will bring clarity out of the “shame, anger, and confusion” surrounding the May 19 arrest of Father Shawn Ratigan, who faces charges of possession of child pornography.

“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,” the Bishop explained.

At the conclusion of the review, Mr. Graves will issue a report. The report will be made public. The review is estimated to take approximately 30 to 45 days. Bishop Finn pledged the complete cooperation of all diocesan personnel.

In the coming weeks, Bishop Finn will appoint a public liaison and ombudsman as the receiving agent and initial investigation point for any reports of misconduct by a diocesan priest, deacon, employee or program volunteer.

The public liaison and ombudsman will screen and investigate any reports on complaints made and consult with law enforcement as appropriate. The ombudsman will be available to anyone who wishes to report a concern through a confidential telephone number and email address.

“This immediate action will ensure all concerns are addressed confidentially, respectfully, promptly and appropriately,” said Bishop Finn.

 

“As bishop, I take full responsibility for these failures and sincerely apologize to you for them,” he concluded. “Clearly, we have to do more,” said Bishop Finn. “While we must deal with these difficult and trying issues, we also must give thanks for the daily accomplishments of our lay faithful, priests and others for the many good works that continue on behalf of neighbors, sick or poor, young or old.”

SOURCE

Bishop Finn Initiates Sweeping Changes and Reviews (Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph)

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