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KANSAS CITY | A Missouri judge refused Thursday to dismiss misdemeanor charges against a Kansas City diocese and its bishop, who is the highest-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic official criminally charged with shielding an abusive priest.

Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are charged with failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors say each is a “mandatory reporter” under the state law. Defense attorneys argued the law is unconstitutionally vague, and that Bishop Finn wasn’t the diocese’s designated reporter.

“This Court finds and concludes that persons of ordinary intelligence have no difficulty understanding the meaning of ‘immediately report, ” Circuit Judge John Torrence wrote in his ruling.

Judge Torrence also denied a request by attorneys for Bishop Finn and the diocese to have the cases tried separately if they advanced, saying there is no reason to have two separate trials in a case involving most of the same facts.

Bishop Finn has acknowledged he was told in December 2010 about hundreds of images of small children, some of them pornographic, found on the Rev. Shawn Ratigan’s computer several months before the diocese turned over a disk containing the photos to local police. The bishop also has acknowledged that a parish principal raised concerns about Father Ratigan’s behavior around children in May 2010, half a year before the photos were found.

OKLAHOMA

Ex-warden’s wife released early from state prison

OKLAHOMA CITY | A former Oklahoma prison warden’s wife convicted of helping an inmate escape almost 18 years ago has been released from prison.

Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie says Bobbi Parker was released at 1 a.m. Thursday from the Hillside Community Correctional Center in Oklahoma City. She served a little more than half of her one-year prison sentence.

Ms. Parker was found guilty Sept. 21 of helping convicted killer Randolph Franklin Dial escape from the Oklahoma State Reformatory where her husband, Randy, was deputy warden.

Ms. Parker and Dial disappeared together from the Greer County prison on Aug. 30, 1994. They were discovered living together as man and wife on a chicken farm in Texas in April 2005.

Prosecutors allege Ms. Parker fell in love with Dial. Her defense attorneys say she was kidnapped.

CALIFORNIA

New prison photo shows shaggy, aged Manson

LOS ANGELES | California corrections officials have released a new photograph of convicted cult killer Charles Manson that shows the 77-year-old with long hair, a shaggy beard and a swastika scar on his forehead.

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