Rev. Shawn Francis Ratigan

Summary of Case: A Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan priest, Ratigan was arrested in May 2011 and charged with three counts of child pornography. He was found in December 2010 by a computer repairman to have pornographic images of girls, ages 3-12, on his computer. Ratigan was pastor of a Kansas City, MO parish at the time. Ratigan survived a suicide attempt after the images were found and reported to the diocese. Parishioners were not informed of the reason for Ratigan's hospitalization, and were asked to pray for him. Families reached out to Ratigan and, despite being told by his superiors to stay away from children, Ratigan accepted invitations to family gatherings which included children. He is said to have contacted at least one 10 year-old girl on Facebook, after which her family invited him to dinner. Ratigan is said to have taken pictures of the girl with his cell phone underneath the dinner table. Diocesan officials didn't file a police report until May 2011. They had been warned in a five-page memo in May 2010 of Ratigan's inappropriate behavior with children by the principal of the parish school. Ratigan pleaded "not guilty" on May 23, 2011. Bishop Finn and the diocese were charged in Oct. 2011 with with failing to report that a child might be subject to abuse. They pleaded "not guilty", maintaining they didn't know the photos were pornographic. Ratigan changed his plea to "guilty" Aug. 2, 2012.

Ordained
: 2004


Start Stop Parish Town/Accusations State Position Notes

June 2004

Kansas City-St. Joseph bishop was Raymond James Boland (1993-2005), followed by Robert William Finn
(2005-)

June 2005 St. Thomas More

Kansas City

In May 2011 investigators discovered a CD with pornographic images of a 3 or 4 year old girl accompanied by a receipt dated 4-30-2004. The CD was in an envelope marked "S. Ratigan."

MO

2/2

Pastor was Rev. John Weiss.

Parish had a school with 658 students, and a religious education program with 15 students.

Ratigan was a "supporter" of Catholic Scouting.

July 2005 June 2009 St. Mary's St. Joseph MO 1/1 Administrator Parish had a religious education program with 60-38 students.
2005 2009 Bishop LeBlond High School St. Joseph MO Chaplain

School had 282-230 students.

Ratigan led a group of LeBlond students on a trip to Guatemala in 2007.

July 2005 June 2009 St. Joseph's

Easton

Images of child pornography were found in May 2011 on a computer Ratigan had used while at this parish.

MO

2/2, 1/1

In the 2006 Directory Ratigan is noted to be Administrator, and he is listed second after Rev. Matthew Brumleve.

Parish had a religious education program with 47-21 students.

 

July 2009 Dec. 2010 St. Patrick's

Kansas City

Dec. 16, 2010 a computer repair person found child pornography on Ratigan's computer. The repairman told church officials, who gave the computer to the diocese's computer expert to review.

Diocesan officials were warned of Ratigan's inappropriate behavior with children by St. Patrick's school principal in a five-page memo in May 2010. This was a year before the diocese filed a police report. The memo included, among others, concerns about Ratigan's picture taking, his obsession with a fifth grade girl, and that a parent found a pair of girl's panties in a planter in the priest's yard.

MO 1/1

Parish had a school with 120 students, and a religious education program with 60 students.

Ratigan was involved with youth in the Pro-Life movement.

In Dec., 2010, the day after a technician found child porn on Ratigan's computer, Ratigan tried to commit suicide, and was hospitalized. In a suicide note, he apologized to "the kids and his family" for any harm he had caused.

The diocese didn't report Ratigan to the police until May 2011. Bishop Finn has said that diocesan officials told a Kansas City police officer in Dec. 2010 about the images, but the officer said they weren't child porn. The officer was a member of a diocesan committee. The diocesan review board was not notified of the allegations.

Diocesan officials copied the photos and gave the laptop to Ratigan's family, who then destroyed the computer.

Authorities have said that Ratigan took photographs with a digital camera and cell phone of girls ages 3-12, some of them taken up the girls' skirts. The images were found on Ratigan's laptop and on a desktop computer that he had used at St. Joseph's in Easton. Many of the photos were said to have been taken at churches and schools associated with Ratigan. By May 19, 2011, several of the girls in the photos had been identified and were being interviewed.

Jan. 2011 May 18, 2011

Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist/Vincentian Parish Mission Center

Independence

Ratigan was accused in a Nov. 2011 lawsuit of taking photos with his cell phone of a 10 year-old girl underneath the table while having dinner with her family in their home. Members of St. Patrick's parish, the family reached out to Ratigan after learning of his carbon monoxide "accident". They said the diocese asked parishioners to pray for Ratigan, but did not say that child pornography had been found on his computer, or that he had attempted suicide. Ratigan is said to have contacted the girl via Facebook, which led to the family inviting him to dinner.

Ratigan was accused also of having taken pornographic photos of a young girl on Easter Sunday, 2011.

MO  

Ratigan was sent to Philadelphia Jan. 6-11, 2011, to be evaluated by psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons, who was involved with the priest support organization, Opus Bono Sacerdotii. Fitzgibbons determined that Ratigan wasn't a pedophile-he was just lonely. Fitzgibbons had previously publicly criticized the bishops' "zero-tolerance" policy regarding priests accused of child sexual abuse.

Ratigan lived in a private priests' residence on the Sisters' property after in-patient psychiatric treatment and a stay with his mother. Bishop Finn stated that he had ordered Ratigan to stay away from children, later to find out that Ratigan attended a St. Patrick's Day parade and a child's birthday party.

Ratigan was arrested May 18, 2011 at the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, and charged with three counts of possessing child pornography. He pleaded "not guilty" on May 23, 2011.

May 18, 2011          

Bishop Finn was charged in Oct. 2011 with failing to report that a child might be subject to abuse. He and the diocese denied guilt, saying they didn't know the photographs were pornographic. A trial was set for Sept. 2012.

On Aug. 2, 2012 Ratigan changed his plea to "guilty".

 

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 2005-2010)

Documents
Memo to Msgr. Robert Murphy, Vicar General, from St. Patrick School Principal, by Julie Hess, May 19, 2010 (first posted by tonyskansascity.com blog and then by the National Catholic Reporter and other media on May 26, 2011)
Affidavit and Complaint in Felony Case, Scott A. Ison and Detective Maggie McGuire, May 19, 2011
Community Update, by Bishop Robert W. Finn, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, May 27, 2011 [see also a video of Finn delivering his statement and answering questions]
Jane Doe 173, by and through her parents and guardians, Mother Doe 173 and Father Doe 173, v. Shawn Ratigan, Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph, and Bishop Robert Finn, June 2, 2011

Articles
Bishop Sullivan Center Renews Goal of Curing Killer Heat in K.C., by Kevin Kelly, Catholic Key, June 16, 2002
Two Priests Ordained for the Diocese, by Kevin Kelly, Catholic Key, June 11, 2004
Fr. Shawn Ratigan a priest who continues to support Catholic Scouting, National Catholic Committee on Scouting, Vocations Committee, Volume 1, Issue 1–2005, page 21 [see also the full newsletter]
Students Find Christ in Guatemala, by Kevin Kelly, Catholic Key, August 17, 2007
Fifth Graders Learn That God’s Call Leads to Happiness, by Kevin Kelly, Catholic Key, February 27, 2009
Faith Moves Mountains . . . In Our Catholic Schools, by Greg Vranicar, Catholic Key, October 23, 2009
Pilgrimage to March for Life: ‘We have no choice’, by Kevin Kelly, Catholic Key, January 29, 2010
Delegation to El Salvador, by Nancy Caccamo, San Francisco de Asis Blog, February 2, 2010
Memo to Msgr. Robert Murphy, Vicar General, from St. Patrick School Principal, by Julie Hess, May 19, 2010 (first posted by tonyskansascity.com blog and then by the National Catholic Reporter and other media on May 26, 2011)
Priest Hospitalized after Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, by Fox4KC Staff, Fox4KC, December 20, 2010
Priest Charged with Possessing Child Pornography, by Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, May 19, 2011
Affidavit and Complaint in Felony Case, Scott A. Ison and Detective Maggie McGuire, May 19, 2011
Local Priest's Porn Charges Stun Brother and Longtime Friend, by Larry Seward, NBC Action News, May 19, 2011
Independence Priest Charged with Possession of Child Porn, The Examiner, May 19, 2011
Priest Faces Child Porn Charges, by Kim Norvell, St. Joseph News-Press, May 19, 2011
Police: Local Priest Found with Child Porn He Photographed, KCTV, May 19, 2011
Priest Charged with Possessing Child Pornography, by Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, May 20, 2011
Shawn Ratigan, Independence Priest, Accused of Possessing Up-skirt Photos of Children in Church, by Justin Kendal, The Pitch, May 20, 2011
Disgusting Behavior by Local Catholic Diocese, by Yael T. Abouhalkah, KansasCity.com, May 20, 2011
Former St. Joseph Priest Charged with Child Porn Possession, by Lourin Sprenger, St. Joe Channel, May 20, 2011
Statement by Bishop Robert W. Finn, News-Press, May 20, 2011
Accused Priest under Suicide Watch, by Peggy Breit, KMBC, May 20, 2011
New Info Uncovered about Priest Accused in Child Porn Case, KCTV, May 20, 2011
Bishop Releases Statement on Priest’s Charges, by Karl Zinke, The Examiner, May 21, 2011
KC Area Bishop Regrets Diocese Actions on Priest, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 21, 2011
Bishop Regrets How Diocese Dealt with Porn Case Involving Priest, by Laura Bauer and Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, May 20, 2011
Bishop Admits Failure in Priest's Child Pornography Case, by Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, May 23, 2011
Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Child Porn Charges, by Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, May 23, 2011
Mo. Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Child Porn Charges, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 23, 2011
Admitting Failure in Child Porn Case, Bishop Finn Hears from Parishioners, by David Martin, The Pitch, May 24, 2011
Diocese Warned of Priest's Aberrant Behavior One Year before Arrest, by Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, May 26, 2011
Petition: Support Principal Hess
Diocese was warned about priest's 'inappropriate' contact with children, by David Martin, May 27, 2011
Community Update, by Bishop Robert W. Finn, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, May 27, 2011 [see also a video of Finn delivering his statement and answering questions]
Bishop: I Didn't Read Letter Warning of Priest's Behavior, by Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, May 27, 2011
Letter Released by SNAP Shows That Parents Were Concerned about Father Shawn Ratigan, by Mike Markewinski, NBC Action News, May 27, 2011
Bishop Says Policies Must Change, by Kim Norvell, St. Joseph News-Press, May 27, 2011
Scandal without End, Part You-Name-It, by David Gibson, dotCommonweal, May 27, 2011
Bishop Says He Failed in Ratigan Case, by Glenn E. Rice and Judy L. Thomas, Kansas City Star, May 27, 2011
Bishop Again Says He Regrets Response to Priest in Child Porn Case, by Glenn E. Rice and Judy L. Thomas, Kansas City Star, May 28, 2011
Catholic Church Needs a Shift in Attitudes, or Nothing Will Change, by Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star, May 29, 2011
Victims Invite Upset Parishioners to "Q & A " Session in KC, Kansas City Star, May 30, 2011
Review Board Meets Today about Charge against Priest, by Judy L. Thomas And Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, June 1, 2011
Priest, Kansas City Diocese Face Lawsuit, KCTV, June 1, 2011
Review Board to Report to Bishop on Charge against Priest, by Judy L. Thomas and Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, June 1, 2011
Jane Doe 173, by and through her parents and guardians, Mother Doe 173 and Father Doe 173, v. Shawn Ratigan, Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph, and Bishop Robert Finn, June 2, 2011
Lawsuit Alleges Ratigan Took Nude Photos of Girl, by Judy L. Thomas and Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, June 2, 2011
KC Diocese Sued over Priest's Photos of Child, Westport News, June 2, 2011
Lawsuit Hints at Cover-up in Priest's Case, by Micheal Mahoney, KMBC, June 2, 2011
Victim Files Lawsuit against Diocese, Priest, by Kim Norvell, St. Joseph News-Press, June 2, 2011
Diocese Was Warned in 2006 about Priest Now Facing Child Porn Charges, Lawsuit Alleges, by Judy L. Thomas and Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, June 3, 2011
Bishop's Message to the People of the Diocese, by Bishop Robert Finn, Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph, June 3, 2011
Bishop Apologizes in Message Read to Catholics, by Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, June 5, 2011
Diocese Removes Priest from KC Church over Sex Allegation, by Judy L. Thomas, Kansas City Star, June 3, 2011 [Rev. Michael Tierney]
Bishop's Delays, Inaction Should Lead to His Resignation, in Kansas City Star, June 4, 2011
Priest Scandals Are Sorely Lacking in Prosecutions, by Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star, June 4, 2011
Bishop Meets with Parishioners in South KC Amid Calls for His Resignation, in Kansas City Star, June 4, 2011
Ratigan, Tierney Coverage "Beating up on Catholics?" by Derek Donovan, Kansas City Star, June 4, 2011
KC Bishop Faces Calls for Resignation, on KMBC, June 3, 2011
Bishop Apologizes in Message Read to Catholics, by Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, June 5, 2011
Bishop Finn: Epic Fail and Fallout, by Elizabeth Scalia, Patheos - The Anchoress, June 7, 2011
KC Diocese Announces Plan to Address Sex Scandal, Stamford Advocate, June 9, 2011
Bishop Finn Initiates Sweeping Changes and Reviews, Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, June 9, 2011
Ex-Priest Indicted in Clay County on Child Porn Charges, By Jason M. Vaughn, Fox 4, November 15, 2011
Northland Couple Says Ratigan Took Photos of Their Daughter under Table, Kansas City Star, November 17, 2011
Psychiatrist Who Examined Ratigan Has Ties to Group Supporting Accused Priests, By Judy L. Thomas and Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star, November 17, 2011
SNAP, Media Target Psychiatrist Who Evaluated Troubled Kansas City Priest, By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register,
December 1, 2011
Special Report - Who Knew What in U.S. Priest Child Porn Case?, By Carey Gillam, The Reuters, December 3, 2011
Judges Dismiss Allegations from Lawsuits against Catholic Priests, By Mark Morris, Kansas City Star, May 4, 2012
Priest at Center of Kansas City Sex Abuse Cases Expected to Plead Guilty, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, August 1, 2012


Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Ratigan's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Aug. 3, 2012.