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Bishop Convicted of|Protecting Pedophile Priest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) - Bishop Robert Finn on Thursday became the highest-ranking Catholic official convicted of protecting a pedophile priest: he was found guilty of failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor.

Finn was acquitted of a second count of failing to report, in Jackson County Court.

Finn, bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City, was sentenced to two years probation, suspended.

He also was ordered to receive training on reporting abuse.

The charges stem from a child pornography case against the Rev. Shawn Ratigan. Prosecutors said Finn and other church officials knew for six months about the photos on Ratigan's computer, before they turned him in to police.

Finn's attorneys said he should not have been charged because he was not the Diocese's mandated reporter under the law. That responsibility rested with Vicar General Robert Murphy at the time, according to The Associated Press.

Ratigan pleaded guilty in August to federal charges of producing and attempting to produce child pornography.

Prosecutors said they want him to be sentenced to life in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

Finn's conviction came after a swift bench trial before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge John Torrence. The bench trial avoided days of potentially embarrassing evidence about what Finn and others did or did not do about Ratigan.

"This could have been a lengthy and emotionally difficult trial for all persons affected," Diocesan attorneys said in a statement to The Associated Press.

"The bench trial, with a stipulation of testimony, has avoided the need for live testimony from diocesan employees, parishioners and others. ... The diocesan process and procedures as previously existed failed to adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children's Division of Shawn Ratigan's behavior in a more timely manner. For this, the bishop is truly sorry."

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