Kansas City priest, bishop sued in child porn case

KANSAS CITY, Mo Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:18pm EST

1 of 3. Members of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) stand in front of the Jackson County Courthouse as they announce a new lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Kansas City, Missouri November 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Dave Kaup

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KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - A priest accused of producing child pornography was welcomed into a young victim's home and included in numerous children's activities because a bishop kept evidence related to the priest a secret, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

The suit is one in a string of lawsuits and legal actions against Father Shawn Ratigan and Bishop Robert Finn, the leader of the 134,000-member Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, alleging that Ratigan took advantage of his position as a priest to create pornographic photos of children in his parish.

The suits allege the bishop knew about the photos, and had received numerous warnings about Ratigan's behavior, but hid the information from police and families in the Diocese.

In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Clay County Circuit Court, parents allege they befriended Ratigan in early 2011 after he was sent by Finn to live in a convent in Independence, Missouri, and ordered to stay away from children.

Because families within the Catholic community there had not been warned about Ratigan, they invited him into their home and to parties and other activities where children were present, the lawsuit alleges.

The suit states Ratigan used a cell phone to take pictures surreptitiously while in the plaintiff's home for dinner.

And the suit alleges that during the course of an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday of this year, Ratigan took sexually explicit photographs of one of the children present.

Ratigan was arrested May 16 after one of Finn's subordinates called police.


Ratigan and Finn face criminal charges as well. Ratigan has been charged with multiple counts of child pornography in federal court and in Clay and Jackson counties in Kansas City. The 46-year-old priest is in jail awaiting trial next summer.

Finn was indicted by a grand jury in Jackson County last month on a misdemeanor charge of failing to report Ratigan to police. He has pleaded not guilty.

As well, Finn reached a diversion agreement Tuesday with Clay County prosecutors allowing him to escape criminal charges as long as he complies with stipulations set by prosecutors, including regular monitoring.

Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic official ever to face criminal charges in the United States in a child sexual abuse case.

Revelations that Ratigan was taking inappropriate pictures of young girls emerged last December after a church computer technician found photos on the priest's computer that became the basis for the pornography charges.

One photo showed a young girl on a bed with her panties pulled aside, exposing her genitals.

The allegations against the bishop are tied to evidence that even after Finn was made aware of the photos found on Ratigan's laptop, he did not report it to police or to the parents and children who interacted with Ratigan.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (6)
911014ever wrote:
Penn State…why should anyone get off for doing the wrong thing. Put them both in jail!

Nov 16, 2011 4:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
911014ever wrote:
Penn State…why should anyone get off for doing the wrong thing. Put them both in jail!

Nov 16, 2011 4:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SNAPJudyJones wrote:
Victims are speaking up and feeling that it is time to do something to help expose the truth and therefore protect kids.

The only way to get this abuse of kids stopped within institutions, including the catholic church, is to hold the officials accountable for enabling, empowering, and protecting child predators. Many of these high ranking leaders need to spend some time in jail. As long as these guys are not held accountable, they have no reason to stop covering up these crimes.

All they had to do was dial 911, the first time they suspected, witnessed, or learned that a child was being sexually abused. This systemic secrecy has got stop. By more victims coming forward and speaking up they are helping to break that secret corrupt culture.

Staying silent is not any option, no matter how long ago your abuse happened, too many innocent children are still being sexually abused today.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA 636-433-2511
“Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

Nov 16, 2011 5:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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