THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 31, 2012 – 2:34 pm EDT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An employee of Kansas City’s Roman Catholic diocese has backed away from her sworn testimony that the bishop said “boys will be boys” when discussing lewd images on a priest’s laptop.
Bishop Robert Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the U.S. to be charged with shielding an abusive priest and faces similar accusations in civil litigation.
Julie Creech, the diocese’s director of management and information systems, said through her attorney late Thursday that she had “misspoken” when recalling her conversation with Finn.
A partial transcript of the Aug. 17 deposition shows Creech said: “He did indicate that, you know, sometimes priests do things that they shouldn’t, and he said, you know, he said, ‘Sometimes boys will be boys.’ I really got the feeling that maybe he didn’t understand or didn’t — I don’t think he saw what I saw, so I felt like I was maybe upset — I think I was upset in a different way than he was because of what I had seen.”
John Gromowsky, an attorney representing Creech, said in a written statement that his client wanted to “correct her mistaken testimony,” which was given in a civil case in Jackson County.
“The statement Julie Creech attributed to Bishop Finn during her deposition that ‘boys will be boys’ is not consistent with her recollection of any conversations she had with the bishop concerning the Shawn Ratigan matter,” Gromowsky said in a statement. “Following the deposition, Julie realized she had misspoken.”
The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/OCj2rF) first reported that the deposition was included Thursday in a court filing for a lawsuit alleging that the Rev. Shawn Ratigan abused a 9-year-old girl months after the diocese learned of the photos. Ratigan has pleaded guilty to federal charges of producing child pornography.
Finn and the diocese are set to go on trial Sept. 24 on misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspected child abuse. Finn has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors plan to call Creech as a witness in the criminal case. It was previously disclosed that Creech alerted the diocese to hundreds of images of small children — some pornographic — after finding them on Ratigan’s computer in December 2010. Creech testified in the recent deposition that she urged a priest responsible for reviewing sex claims to call 911, but the diocese didn’t go to police until May 2011.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, questioned in a written statement Friday whether Creech had been pressured to change her story.
“Something here just doesn’t pass the ‘smell test,’ ” the statement said.
Finn has maintained that he didn’t see the images and initially relied on subordinates. Diocese spokeswoman Jack Smith said he couldn’t comment because the deposition is part of “a pending motion in a pending case.”
Rebecca Randles, the lawyer representing the girl and her parents who filed the lawsuit, didn’t immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press. She noted in Thursday’s motion that she had been accused of misrepresenting facts and filed portions of the Creech deposition to establish that the diocese knew of the lewd photos.
The day after the photos were found, Ratigan was found unconscious in his garage, his motorcycle running and an apologetic note nearby. Finn in turn sent Ratigan out of state for a psychiatric evaluation.
When the priest returned to Missouri, Finn sent him to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, where he was to say Mass for the sisters and be away from children.
The diocese went to police after the church received reports Ratigan had violated those orders.