Court: Bishop Finn is required to report child abuse
Yael T. Abouhalkah
In a full-scale setback for Bishop Robert Finn, he lost a legal battle today when a judge ordered him to stand trial in a child abuse case.
You can read the full ruling regarding this nationally watched case by Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence here.
Finn essentially lost the most important bid he and his lawyers were making in court, which was to throw the whole thing out.
And here’s a key part of the Torrence ruling:
“The court finds that the evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law.”
Note: The judge obviously wasn’t reaching a conclusion on whether Finn had or had not violated the law in a specific case of child abuse.
But he was striking down a key contention made by Finn and his supporters, that he shouldn’t even be a mandatory reporter when it came to abuse of minors.
Yes, he should be on that list, the judge said.
This ruling ratchets up the possibility that Finn may become the highest ranking Catholic to be found guilty of participating in the church’s long-standing coverup of sexual abuse of minors.
- Unusual new abuse & cover up lawsuit is filed
- Accused predator priest violated four boys in one family
- The alleged crimes happened in Independence over two decades
For the first time, a KC area Catholic priest is being accused sexually violating four boys in one family, according to a new civil lawsuit. The case will be disclosed and discussed at a news conference today at which clergy sex abuse victims will also hold signs and childhood photos.
TODAY, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1:30 p.m.
Outside the KC chancery (diocesan headquarters) 20 West Ninth Street (at Baltimore) in KC MO
Two child sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a St. Louis man who is the organization’s long-time director
A new civil lawsuit charges that Fr. John Tulipana sexually assaulted four boys (ranging in age from 10 – 16) in one family in/around St. Catherine’s parish between roughly 1976 and 1992. Most of the alleged crimes happened between 1979-81, sometimes on camping and fishing trips and sometimes at the family’s home. Some of the boys repressed the memories of the abuse, according to the suit.
Tulipana left active ministry in the mid-1990s because of credible abuse allegations.
In 1989, Richard Durocher told church officials Tulipana had abused him as a child. The diocese gave him $150,000 but demanded that he sign a “gag order” preventing him from discussing the abuse. Durocher was promised that Tulipana would receive therapy and children would be protected. But Tulipana was allowed to stay in active ministry with access to kids. In 1994, Durocher broke his silence, the KC Star wrote about the case, and Tulipana resigned. Since then, the diocese has admitted that others have come forward with sex abuse charges and they have settled with at least “several” of them.
Tulipana was ordained in 1972 and worked in at least eight parishes including Independence (Nativity of Mary), Grandview (Coronation of Our Lady), Clinton (Holy Rosary), and Kansas City (St. Catherine’s at 4101 E. 105th Terrace; St. Augustine’s at 7801 the Paseo; Christ the King at 85th Street & Wornall Road; Holy Trinity at 934 Norton Ave., and, in the mid-1990s, at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception). He also taught at the University of Dallas.
Tulipana is believed to be in his mid- 60s, working as an insurance agent, and living at 301 S. Shrank in Independence. A photo of Tulipana is available at http://bishop-accountability.org/member/psearch.jsp.
According to 2010 lawsuit “multiple priests and lay persons (knew) that Tulipana (and another priest, Fr. Thomas Cronin) were sexually abusing children, providing liquor to children and spending inordinate amounts of time with children.” http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2010/09_10/2010_10_05_Hart_TwoExpriests.htm
That suit also says that the KC diocese “aided and abetted” Cronin and Tulipana “by moving the priests from church to church following reports of his sexual abuse of minors,” by forcing the victims to be silent by representing that the priests were in good standing.Jack
The new suit seeks unspecified damages and is filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.
SNAP worries that others who have been hurt by Fr. Tulipana may still be “suffering in shame, isolation and self blame” and want Catholic officials to “aggressively reach out to others in pain.”
KC attorney Rebecca Randles represents the victim. KC lawyer Jon Haden represents the diocese (which is also named as a defendant.) SNAP doesn’t know if Tulipana has a lawyer.
Earlier this month, similar suits were filed against two other KC priests – Fr. Thomas Ford (who hadn’t been publicly accused of abuse before) and Fr. James Urbanic (who was suspended from active ministry at Sacred Heart parish in Warrensburg last summer).