Geopolitics: The Ignatieff Who Cried "Wolf!!": Equitable Growth: Thursday Focus for July 3, 2014
Thursday Idiocy: Once Again, Somebody Has to Do the Intellectual Garbage Collection on Robert Samuelson

Dante's Inferno Edition: La Farine CCX: July 3, 2014

NewImageI must say: the only live questions here are:

  1. Are the odds 100-1 or 1000-1 against these people making even half an effort at true repentance and amendment before they die?
  2. What circle of Dante's Inferno do they belong in?

Judy L. Thomas: KC Diocese ordered to pay $1.1 million for violating contract with sex abuse victims: "An arbitrator has ordered the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese... pay $1.1 million for violating terms of a 2008 settlement that were designed to protect children from sexual abuse by priests. The order stems from a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed nearly three years ago alleging that the diocese and Bishop Robert Finn violated parts of the settlement, putting children in danger. The lawsuit... did not seek damages but asked a judge to force the diocese to arbitration to ensure that it had complied with the reforms agreed upon in the settlement. In his highly critical order, arbitrator Hollis Hanover found that the diocese had breached five of the terms of the 2008 agreement. He noted that the plaintiffs could have sought to declare the contract void and collect what likely would have been “a far larger award.”

They have instead opted to seek damages for these noted breaches and to maintain the contract in force for the protection of children in the future.... I here honor their preference and join in their hope that I am dead wrong in my opinion that this Diocese as presently constituted will not mend its ways.

The diocese said Tuesday that because the matter was pending, it could not comment beyond what was submitted to the court in a motion it filed to vacate the order.

In that motion, the diocese said that Hanover had exceeded his authority:

There were no contractual terms under the express arbitration provisions of the 2008 Settlement Agreement which allowed the Arbitrator to award monetary damages beyond the $10M agreed to by the parties almost six years following the dismissals of Plaintiffs’ lawsuits with prejudice and Plaintiffs’ execution of general releases....

Rebecca Randles, an attorney for the plaintiffs, called the breach-of-contract case unprecedented.

To bring a breach-of-contract claim involving a settlement in a priest sexual abuse case has never happened before.... There are a number of settlements across the country that contain nonmonetary commitments, and they allow for plaintiffs to hold bishops and dioceses accountable to the promises they’ve made about keeping children safe. But it’s been business as usual, at least in the Kansas City diocese. This gives us one more weapon in our arsenal to keep children from being harmed....

The lawsuit grew from a sexual abuse case filed years ago against 12 priests or former priests in the diocese. A $10 million settlement was reached in 2008 that included 19 nonmonetary commitments, such as establishing victims’ advocacy programs, immediately reporting any abuse or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement authorities, and defrocking several priests who had been accused of abuse. But after the Rev. Shawn Ratigan was arrested in May 2011 on child pornography charges, some of the plaintiffs sent a letter to diocesan officials, asking for proof that the diocese had complied with a number of the agreed-upon reforms. The diocese responded that is “has complied with and continues to comply with each of these items.” Not satisfied, the plaintiffs filed the breach-of-contract lawsuit, saying that the diocese broke the agreement by failing for almost a year to report allegations and concerns about Ratigan to police; withholding evidence of possible child pornography from law enforcement for months; leaving another credibly accused priest in a parish for nearly two years; and keeping no records of abuse reports to law enforcement....

In 2012, a Jackson County judge found Bishop Finn guilty of failing to report suspicions of child abuse to police or state child welfare authorities after the Ratigan photographs were discovered. Finn was sentenced to two years of probation for the misdemeanor. Ratigan pleaded guilty to five child pornography charges and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. In his order, Hanover included Finn’s statement from August 2008 in which he said the diocese agreed to a number of stipulations:

that should assure our community, our congregation and these families that the diocese will continue in its exercise of vigilance and in its devotion to training and education so that we may be confident that there will never, ever be a repeat of the behaviors, the offenses, or the claims that have been associated with this matter.

But the diocese failed to abide by those intentions, Hanover said.

Based on its behavior as revealed in this record, it is my opinion and finding that the Diocese, with its leadership and higher level personnel and their unavoidable biases and ingrained priorities, was and is constitutionally incapable of placing the preservation and protection of the clergy culture in a subordinate position to any other consideration, including the timely reporting to law enforcement of a priest involved in the use of diocesan children as pornography models....

Hanover also found that the diocese breached its agreement to not provide a recommendation for any priest who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. That breach happened, he said, when Finn sent Ratigan to work with the Sisters of St. Francis after placing restrictions on the priest’s activities>

The ‘restrictions’ placed on Fr. Ratigan by Bishop Finn lead me to conclude and find that Bishop Finn believed Fr. Ratigan to be a pornographer specializing in diocesan children as models.... His belief was well justified, but he concealed it from the Sisters.

Hanover further found that the diocese had violated its agreement to follow the law regarding the reporting of child sexual abuse.

The Diocese had policies and procedures which required reporting sexual misconduct involving minors first to the police, next to the so-called Hot Line (Division of Family Services), and then to the Diocese.... Nothing about the policies and procedures suggests that waiting a year to make the report is satisfactory...