Ex-Greenwich pastor reports to prison

The former pastor of a Greenwich church sentenced in July for federal obstruction of justice has reported to a Brooklyn, N.Y., prison, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Michael Moynihan, 59, who was sentenced to five months in jail followed by two years of supervised release, is now at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Located near the Gowanus Bay, the prison is classified as an administrative facility, a type of institution intended for the detention of pretrial offenders, dangerous or escape-prone inmates, or for treatment of inmates with medical problems, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Brooklyn facility is capable of holding male and female inmates in all security categories.

Moynihan was to report to prison Sept. 3; a prison employee on Thursday would not confirm when he reported.

Moynihan resigned from St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in 2007 amid allegations he diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in church funds to pay for personal expenses.

He pleaded guilty in December 2011 to the obstruction charge, which stemmed from lies he told federal officials investigating the possible misappropriation of funds.

He met with FBI agents to provide information about how the funds were spent and, in a December 2010 interview, told agents he had not forged a signature on a letter, although he knew he signed another person’s name without the authority to do so, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

An investigation by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport found in 2008 that Moynihan could not account for church money he kept in secret accounts and engaged in a pattern of deception when confronted.

Moynihan also provided false and misleading information to accountants retained by the diocese, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Though most of approximately $2 million in expenditures from two accounts went toward documented legitimate expenses or expenses that appeared to be appropriate, Moynihan used about $300,000 in church funds to pay his credit card bills, authorities said.

Attorney Audrey Felsen, who represents Moynihan with attorney Mark Sherman, said after Moynihan’s sentencing that about $300,000 has not been accounted for to the diocese’s satisfaction.

Moynihan must pay over $400,000 in restitution to the diocese and must complete 120 hours of community service as part of his sentence.

Complete Article HERE!

U.S. Roman Catholics outraged over child sex abuse scandal; call for bishop’s resignation

Calls for Bishop Robert Finn’s resignation intensified the day after he became the highest-ranking U.S. church official to be convicted of a crime related to a child sexual abuse scandal.

Soon after a Missouri judge found Bishop Finn guilty Thursday of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to the state, unhappy Roman Catholics began discussing ways to get the bishop out of office on a Facebook page titled “Bishop Finn Must Go.”

Among the posts was one that listed contact information for the Vatican and urged parishioners to voice their displeasure with Bishop Finn at the highest levels. Pope Benedict XVI alone has authority over bishops. Through the decades-long abuse scandal, only one U.S. bishop has stepped down over his failures to stop abusive clergy: Cardinal Bernard Law – who, in 2002, resigned as head of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Jackson County Judge John M. Torrence sentenced Bishop Finn to two years of supervised probation. If the bishop abides by a set of stipulations from the judge, the conviction will be wiped from his record in 2014.

“Now that our justice system says he’s guilty, he has lost his ability to lead our diocese,” Patricia Rotert, a Catholic church member in Kansas City, said Friday. “He’s lost his credibility. There is turmoil and angst around him and I don’t think he can bring people together.”

Bishop Finn’s attorneys would not comment on the bishop’s future in the church, saying it was a legal matter.

However, Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph spokesman Jack Smith indicated that Bishop Finn wasn’t going anywhere.

“The bishop looks forward to continuing to perform his duties, including carrying out the important obligations placed on him by the court,” Mr. Smith said in an emailed statement Friday.

Bishop Finn’s conviction comes four years after the church paid $10 million to settle 47 pending sexual abuse claims against the diocese and 12 of its priests. When announcing that deal in 2008, Bishop Finn apologized for the abuse that occurred at the hands of current and former clergy members, and promised that steps were being taken to make sure such abuse never happened again.

The diocese posted an update about the 2008 settlement on its website in June 2011 stating that Bishop Finn had written 118 letters of apology to plaintiffs or their families. That same month, Bishop Finn apologized for not responding to warnings the diocese received a year earlier from a parish principal detailing suspicious behavior by the Reverand Shawn Ratigan around children.

Instead of reading the memo and looking into the claims, Bishop Finn left it up to subordinates to handle the matter. He later admitted it was a year before he finally read a five-page document that a parish elementary school principal wrote detailing suspicious activities by Rev. Ratigan around children.

Bishop Finn also was informed of nude photos of children found on Rev. Ratigan’s laptop computer in December 2010, but instead of turning them over to police, Bishop Finn sent Rev. Ratigan to live at a convent in Independence, Mo.

Monsignor Robert Murphy turned the photos over to police in May 2011 — against Bishop Finn’s wishes, according to court documents — after Rev. Ratigan continued to violate Bishop Finn’s orders to stay away from children and not take any pictures of them.

Rev. Ratigan pleaded guilty last month to five child pornography counts, but hasn’t been sentenced. Prosecutors have requested he spend the rest of his life in prison.

Bishop Finn apologized again Thursday in court for the pain caused by his failure to report Rev. Ratigan.

The bishop has avoided facing charges in Missouri’s Clay County, where Rev. Ratigan was charged, after reaching a settlement in November 2011. For five years, Bishop Finn must report to the Clay County prosecutor directly each month about any suspected child abuse in the diocese’s facilities in the county.

“I said for years that we wouldn’t be in the mess we were in today if about 30 bishops had said `I made a mistake, I’m sorry, I take full responsibility and I resign,“’ said the Reverand Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. “I think we’re at a state in the life of the church when a bishop is convicted of a misdemeanor, found guilty of not doing what he was supposed to do, I think he should resign for the good of the diocese and the good of the church.”

Support for Bishop Finn’s resignation is far from unanimous. Some say they agree he made a mistake, but it’s not one that should force him out, especially with even more stringent safeguards in place to protect children.

“There’s always been fights in the church, and there will continue to be fights in the church,” said Kansas City parishioner Bruce Burkhart, a member of the Serra Club, which supports and promotes priests.

“I think people may walk away, but that’s their business,” he said. “If they think their children are any more safe in public schools, or in another church setting where people are working with youth, the data indicate they’re not. The Catholic Church in America is probably now today the safest place for children.”

While Bishop Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged in the U.S. with shielding an abusive priest, Albany Law School professor Timothy Lytton said the June conviction of Monsignor William Lynn in Philadelphia broke the ice on criminal convictions against members of the Catholic hierarchy.

Monsignor Lynn, who supervised other clergy as an aide to the cardinal, was convicted of felony child endangerment and became the first U.S. church official sent to prison for his handling of abuse complaints. He is appealing his three- to six-year sentence.

Still, Bishop Finn’s conviction is significant because it proves Monsignor Lynn’s criminal prosecution was not an isolated event, but instead something that is likely to embolden prosecutors to go after church leaders who fail to protect children.

“Kansas City might mark a trend,” Mr. Lytton said. “It’s no longer good enough to just file civil suits; criminal justice may be much quicker to get involved. Kansas City normalizes this kind of reaction to the scandal.”

Complete Article HERE!

Bishop Finn found guilty of one of two counts of failure to report suspected child abuse

BREAKING NEWS!

A Jackson County judge found Bishop Robert Finn guilty on Thursday on one count of failing to report suspected child abuse. He was found not guilty on the other count. The state asked the judge to put Finn on probation, according to court reports.

A judge granted the state’s request for court-supervised probation. The conditions include mandated reporter training, institute training for clergy and a $10,000 fund for victims of abuse.

After the verdict was read, Finn spoke to the court, saying he regretted what happened and was sorry for the hurt the events caused, according to court reports.

After the ruling, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker dropped all charges against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Finn was charged with the misdemeanors for not reporting suspected child abuse from Dec. 2012 to May 2011 in connection with allegations against Rev. Shawn Ratigan.

Ratigan pleaded guilty to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to produce child pornography in August.

According to court documents, after being informed of pornographic photographs of young girls found on Ratigan’s computer, Finn sent the priest to a hospital for psychiatric care instead of reporting him to authorities.

The diocese didn’t turn over evidence to law enforcement until May 2011, after Finn found out Ratigan had violated orders to stay away from children.

Read the full indictment: http://bit.ly/T55GnS

Complete Article HERE!

Rev. James Nowak, Montini Catholic High School board member, former west suburban pastor, on leave after sex abuse allegation

A member of Montini Catholic High School’s board of directors is on leave from the Diocese of Joliet amid allegations that he sexually abused a minor more than 25 years ago.

The Rev. James Nowak, a retired Roman Catholic priest who served in parishes in Lombard, Romeoville, Westmont and most recently Naperville over a 40-year career, is no longer allowed to celebrate a public Mass or to administer other sacraments, diocese officials said, as he is on temporary administrative leave.

In a statement the diocese has dated Aug. 28, Bishop Daniel Conlon, head of the Diocese of Joliet, said he has “determined that abuse likely occurred,” and that the case has been forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome for further review.The statement also says parishioners where Nowak was assigned are being notified of the allegations against him through their local parish.

James Segredo, president of Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, confirmed he was aware of the allegations against Nowak, but directed all other questions to the diocese.

Doug Delaney, a spokesman for the Diocese of Joliet, said the diocese does not know when the alleged sexual abuse occurred or what church Nowak was serving at the time of the alleged incident. The Diocese declined to say on what basis it made its decision to place Nowak on leave.

Nowak, 75, retired in 2007 after serving five years as pastor at Saints Peter and Paul in Naperville, Delaney said.

Prior to that tenure, he was assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Lombard, St. Mary Nativity in Joliet and St. Andrew in Romeoville from 1971 to 1974, according to information from the Diocese of Joliet.

After studying church law in Rome and an eight-year tenure in the Diocese of Joliet’s offices — where he worked with marriage annulments, according to the diocese — Nowak was named pastor of St. Anthony in Joliet in 1988.

He went on to serve as pastor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Westmont from 1993 to 2002 and Saints Peter and Paul in Naperville from 2002 to 2007, when he retired.

The diocese statement asks that individuals with relevant information to the allegations should contact Judith Speckman, Dioecesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, at (815) 263-6467, as well as law enforcement authorities.

Complete Article HERE!

‘Boys will be boys,’ Bishop Finn purportedly said after being told of priest’s lewd photos

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.

“Sometimes, boys will be boys,” the bishop is purported to have said, court records show.

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.

Complete Article HERE!