Mo. bishop faces bench trial in case tied to abuse

A Missouri judge is considering the criminal case against the highest-ranking Catholic official in the U.S. to be charged with shielding an abusive priest, three weeks before it was to go before a jury.

Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are charged with two counts each of failing to report suspected child abuse to the state.

Their trial was scheduled to start Sept. 24. Finn faces a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each count. The diocese could be fined up to $5,000 on each charge.

Instead, a set of stipulated facts negotiated by both sides was presented Thursday to Judge John M. Torrence. He recessed the court until later in the afternoon, when he's expected to rule.