KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City Roman Catholic Bishop dodged more misdemeanor charges Tuesday for his handling of a priest accused of taking hundreds of suspected pornographic pictures of children.

Bishop Robert Finn entered into an agreement with the Clay County prosecutor’s office that will give the prosecutor authority, for five years, to review how the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese handles future allegations of child abuse in that county.

The agreement requires the bishop to report directly to the prosecutor monthly to apprise him of any reported abuse activities involving minors throughout the diocese’s Clay County facilities. Finn also agreed to visit all Clay County parishes and outline notification programs to protect minors.

Prosecutor Dan White said if Finn fails to meet requirements of the agreement, he could face charges for how he handled claims against the Rev. Shawn Ratigan after suspected child pornography was found on the priest’s computer.

“The children of our community must be our first priority,” Finn said in a written statement. “Each deserves no more and no less. I stand ready to do all within my power not only to satisfy this agreement, but also to ensure the welfare and safety of all children under our care.”

Finn and the diocese were charged last month in Jackson County with failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor, and both have pleaded not guilty. That Oct. 6 indictment made Finn the highest-ranking U.S. church official charged with shielding an accused priest.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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