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Bishop Finn Releases Report of Independent Investigation

Sep 1st, 2011

The Most Reverend Robert W. Finn, Bishop of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph today released the Graves Bartle Marcus and Garrett report investigating diocesan policies and procedures and events surrounding claims of sexual misconduct. 

 

The independent investigation, announced on June 9, is a key element in the Bishop’s Five-Point Plan to effect change within the diocese.

 

The investigation was led by former United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Todd P. Graves, with a team of attorneys, former prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials. 

 

The independent investigation was in four areas. In addition to a review of diocesan policies and procedures, the investigation focused on:

  • diocesan response to reports of abuse by Shawn Ratigan and Michael Tierney;
  • diocesan training programs for prevention and reporting of child sexual abuse;
  • recommendations for changes or additions to diocesan policies and procedures to ensure the protection of children.

FINDINGS

The report highlights four primary diocesan shortcomings:

  • Gatekeeping consolidated into a single administrative office;
  • Failure to follow diocesan policy in a timely manner;
  • Reliance on limited professional judgments rather than the Independent Review Board;
  • Misplaced trust in Ratigan’s agreement to comply with restrictions.

BISHOP COMMENTS

“Engaging former U.S. Attorney Graves and his team to conduct this investigation was a decision I believed necessary to help me make the changes I promised on May 27,” said Bishop Finn.

 

“The Graves report affirms the decision to establish and appoint an Ombudsman.  Jennifer Valenti, appointed Ombudsman in late June, is an experienced prosecutor and possesses the authority as gatekeeper to receive and investigate, independently, any complaint involving the sexual abuse of minors,” Bishop Finn explained.

 

Graves’ recommendations are comprehensive, thoughtful and detailed. We understand their importance and are focusing on them so we establish clear, strong and unequivocal procedures for all diocesan personnel and volunteers that ensure the safety of our children today and into the future,” Bishop Finn concluded.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Graves’ recommendations address both current and historical allegations of abuse.[1] They include:

  • Any diocesan employee or volunteer who receives a report of current abuse involving a minor must report to the police and the Division of Family Services, whether or not he or she is a mandated reporter.
  • The Ombudsman should be notified of reports of current or past sexual abuse of minors, and should also receive reports of two new categories of conduct: sexual misconduct with minors and boundary violations.
  • All reports should be immediately investigated by the Ombudsman.
  • The Independent Review Board should be notified of all reports so that it can make a credibility determination and recommendation to the Bishop, and certain reports will receive expedited review while the accused is placed on administrative leave.
  • The diocese should take greater steps in offering victim support and in notifying the public regarding priests removed from ministry due to the credible allegations of child abuse. 

GRAVES COMMENTS

“Bishop Finn pledged to make all diocesan employees and records available for a complete and searching review.  Diocesan employees, clergy, and counsel cooperated fully in the investigation and made a good faith effort to fulfill that pledge,” said Mr. Graves. 

 

“Our investigation identified shortcomings, inaction and confusing procedures, but we believe Bishop Finn and the leadership of the diocese understand the gravity of the issues and take these recommendations seriously,” Mr. Graves concluded.

 

Graves Bartle Marcus and Garrett Team

The review and investigative team from Graves Bartle Marcus and Garrett included:

 

  • Todd Graves – in addition to his service as a U.S. Attorney, he served as the national co-chair of the Department of Justice Child Exploitation Working Group and was also a two-term Platte County prosecutor who created initiatives to combat child pornography.
  • Nathan Garrett -- former prosecutor, FBI Special Agent and Supervising Assistant U.S. Attorney.
  • Edward Greim – Harvard-educated attorney with extensive experience in litigation in state and federal trial and appellate courts.
  • Kathleen Fisher -- former Buchanan County prosecutor with experience trying cases of statutory rape and child endangerment.
  • Thomas Nunemaker -- former Assistant Special Agent in Charge in the Kansas City Division of the FBI. He also had oversight for the FBI’s national Violent Crimes investigative program which included the Crimes Against Children sub-program.

FIVE POINT PLAN

The Five-Point Plan announced on June 9 included:

1. Immediate engagement of 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 diocese policy and immediate commencement of an independent review of the policy on Ethical Codes of Conduct and Sexual Misconduct,

4.  An in-depth review of diocesan personal training regarding Ethical Codes of Conduct and its Policy on Sexual Misconduct, and,

5. Continued cooperation with local law enforcement.

 

###

 

The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph is the spiritual home to more than 133,000 Catholics in 27 counties of northern and western Missouri. The diocese is a diverse faith community consisting of 98 urban, rural and suburban parishes.

Through 42 well-performing Catholic schools, the diocese educates more than 12,000 students. Annually, more than 200,000 people receive human and social services through varied programs that include: emergency groceries, rent and utility assistance, aging in place services for the elderly, and transitional housing for the homeless.


[1] A diagram of the recommended  “Process for Handling Complaints Involving Sexual Abuse of Minors” is available at http://www.diocese-kcsj.org/_docs/Recommended-Complaint-Process.pdf .

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