A Jackson County grand jury has indicted Bishop Robert Finn on a misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse.
The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph also was charged with failure to report.
The charges, announced at a news conference today, make Finn — leader of the 134,000-member diocese — the highest-ranking Catholic official in the nation to face criminal prosecution in a child sexual abuse case.
“This is a significant charge,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. “To my knowledge, a charge like this has not been leveled before.”
In a statement, the diocese said its counsel, Jean Paul Bradshaw and Tom Bath, entered a plea of not guilty for the diocese. According to Gerald Handley and J.R. Hobbs, counsel for Bishop Finn, the bishop also entered a plea of not guilty.
“Bishop Finn denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor’s office, and the Graves Commission,” said Gerald Handley, counsel for Bishop Finn. “We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter.”