Pope Accepts Resignation of U.S. Bishop for Failure to Report Abuse

On Tuesday, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a U.S. bishop who pleaded guilty to failing to report a suspected child abuser.

The Vatican said Tuesday that the bishop had offered his resignation under the code of canon law that allows bishops to resign early for illness or some “grave” reason that makes them unfit for office.

There was no reason provided in the one-line announcement. The bishop is 62, about 13 years away from the normal retirement age of 75.

The bishop, who leads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, apparently waited six months before notifying police about Rev. Shawn Ratigan, whose computer contained hundreds of lewd photos of young girls taken in and around churches where he worked. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

The bishop plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years’ probation in 2012. Since that time, he has faced pressure from local Roman Catholics to step down, and some parishioners have petitioned Francis to remove him from the diocese.

No U.S. bishop to date has been forcibly removed for covering up for guilty clergy.

In the state of Florida, failure to report any form of child abuse to the Florida Department of Children and Families, including sexual assault, is a third-degree felony. Before July 1, 2012, this was a misdemeanor. Abuse reports can be made through the DCF statewide hotline by calling 1-800-96-ABUSE or through the DCF website.

While everyone in Florida is considered a mandated reporter, some people are professionally mandated reporters. Social workers, medical and mental health professionals, teachers and other school officials as well as church staff must give their names and occupation or place of business when calling to report suspected abuse.

If you or someone you know has been accused of failing to report suspected or known child abuse, a Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help. For a free consultation to learn more how we can assist with your case, please call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online.

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