When confronted by the diocese’s computer director about her concerns over lewd images found on a priest’s laptop, Bishop Robert Finn replied that, “Sometimes priests do things they shouldn’t,” court papers filed Thursday alleged.
Julie Creech, the director of management and information systems for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, described her meeting with the bishop during an Aug. 17 deposition in a Jackson County civil case. According to that lawsuit, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan abused a 9-year-old girl months after the diocese learned of the photos on his computer.
Finn and the diocese are scheduled for a criminal trial starting Sept. 24 on misdemeanor counts of failing to report Ratigan’s suspected abuse of children. Ratigan is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in federal court earlier this month to producing and attempting to produce child pornography.
State prosecutors have identified Creech as a witness in their case against Finn and the diocese. A prosecutor’s spokesman declined comment on the Creech deposition Thursday.
The diocese and lawyers representing Finn declined comment Thursday.
Rebecca Randles, the lawyer representing the girl and her parents who filed the lawsuit, also declined to comment.
Though Creech’s concerns in December 2010 about the contents of Ratigan’s laptop previously had been reported in a fact-finding study commissioned by the diocese, her meeting with Finn had not been disclosed publicly until today.
According to the study, prepared by former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, Creech examined Ratigan’s laptop on Dec. 16, 2010, and discovered hundreds of disturbing photographs of young children, primarily girls. That evening, Creech called vicar general Robert Murphy and advised him to call police, the study said. The diocese did not report the suspected abuse until May 2011.
In the Graves report, Finn said he didn’t see what was on the computer.
The civil motion filed Thursday quotes Creech as having been concerned when she heard that some at the diocese were saying that she had not found “lewd” photographs on the computer. In a partial deposition transcript included with the civil filings, Creech said she approached Finn about the diocese’s response to the Ratigan discoveries.
Finn, she noted, was not specific as to what actions the diocese would take.
“He did indicate that, you know, sometimes priests do things that they shouldn’t, and he said, you know, he said, ‘Sometimes boys will be boys,’ ” Creech said in the deposition.
Creech said she had no indication that Finn had ever seen any of the images from Ratigan’s computer and that the bishop never told her that he had.
Creech said in the deposition that she was “upset” during her meeting with Finn.
“I think I was upset in a different way than he was because of what I had seen,” Creech said.
Creech did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.
Finn always has maintained that he never saw the images and that he had delegated the diocese’s initial response and management to his subordinates.
The civil lawsuit in which the deposition pages were filed Thursday alleges that Ratigan engaged a 9-year-old girl in sexually explicit conduct as late as May 2011 — about five months after the diocese learned of the pictures.
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