Judge to hear case against KC bishop, diocese

The criminal case against the highest-ranking Catholic official in the U.S. to be charged with shielding an abusive priest is poised to reach a surprisingly swift end.

Jackson County, Mo., prosecutors and attorneys for Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn have agreed to have a judge hear their case on Thursday, weeks ahead of a scheduled jury trial date.

Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are each charged with a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse.

The judge will hear the case Thursday afternoon and is expected to reach a verdict later that day.

The charges stem from the Rev. Shawn Ratigan's child porn case, in which church officials knew about photos on the priest's computer but didn't turn him in for six months.