Out there, Missouri way, Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence has ordered that the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph must provide prosecutors with information about the diocese's investigation into past reports of pedophile priests.
Torrence, who is overseeing a case against Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese, has also ruled that the diocese must turn over documents from the independent investigation into the case of Reverend Shawn Ratigan; Ratigan has pleaded not guilty to state and federal child pornography charges and remains jailed.
Bishop Finn and the diocese are charged with misdemeanor failure to report suspected child abuse after they learned of suspected child pornography found on Ratigan's computer. Finn learned about the photographs in December 2010, a full six months before Ratigan was arrested and, naturally, did nothing about it.
Attorneys for the diocese argued that records of the investigation and interviews by U.S. Attorney Todd Graves' law firm are protected by attorney-client privilege, but Judge Torrence disagreed, because when the diocese hired Graves to do the investigation, they said they would issue a public report upon its completion.
It's not all a win for victims of child abuse at the hands of Catholic pedophile priests, however, because Torrence also rules that, while information about the diocese's investigations into the alleged misconduct of five other priests is relevant to the state's case, the information could not be photocopied and must be returned to the diocese's lawyers.
So, I guess those five priests may have dodged a bullet.
Still, the tide is changing in this decade’s long battle against the Catholic Church for their decade’s long abuse scandals. Now, at least some of the victims may feel a sense of justice, and some of the pedophiles, as well as those who helped shield them from police, will be brought to justice.
The Catholic Church, of course, says nothing.