Local News Spotlight

Diocese must give details about past priest abuse investigations

Updated: 2012-06-29T05:17:33Z

By TONY RIZZO

The Kansas City Star

Local Catholic officials must hand over information about past priest abuse investigations to Jackson County prosecutors, according to a judge overseeing the current case against Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

The diocese also must turn over its notes and other documents from an independent investigation it commissioned former U.S. attorney Todd Graves to conduct in the case of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, the judge ruled. Ratigan is facing child pornography charges in state and federal court.

Finn and the diocese are nearing trial on misdemeanor charges related to the handling of allegations against Ratigan.

In his ruling released Wednesday, Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence said information about the diocesan investigations into alleged misconduct regarding five other priests is “relevant and material” to the state’s pending case. Because sensitive and confidential information probably is contained in that information, the judge said he would impose a protective order to limit access to those files to attorneys and staff directly involved in the case.

He said the information could not be photocopied and must be returned to lawyers for the diocese within 10 days of the case being completed.

Torrence also granted the state’s request to amend the charges to add an additional misdemeanor count against both the bishop and the diocese.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office and attorneys representing Finn and the diocese said they were reviewing the ruling.

The case is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 24 in Jackson County Circuit Court.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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