Police: Local Priest Found with Child Porn He Photographed

May 19, 2011

A priest who works in Independence and lives in Kansas City, Mo., has been charged with three counts of possessing child pornography after detectives said they found numerous photos of children in and around the churches the priest has worked at.

Shawn F. Ratigan, 45 of Kansas City, Mo., is charged with the crimes and was arrested Wednesday at the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, 2100 N. Noland Road in Independence.

The probable cause statement in Ratigan's charges said that on Dec. 16, Ratigan had sent his laptop to a computer repair technician, who discovered pornographic images of girls under 12 on the computer. The computer repairman made the church aware of what he had found and church personnel took the laptop to the church diocese IT representative for review, investigators said. Many of the images found were up-skirt photos, taken without the girls' knowledge and of their vaginal area, police said.

VIDEO: Police: Local Priest Found With Child Porn He Photographed

On Dec. 17, church officials found Ratigan unconscious in his garage after trying to commit suicide by running his motorcycle with his garage doors closed, police said. A suicide note was found in Ratigan's house, police said, and he was taken to a hospital for psychiatric care. Copies of the images found on the laptop were made and Ratigan's family destroyed the laptop, church officials told police.

On Friday, a disk with the images found on the laptop was given to police by church officials, police said. After reviewing the disc, detectives said they determined that the images were taken in and around the churches Ratigan had worked at.

On Monday, police contacted a church in St. Joseph that Ratigan had worked for and reviewed a desktop computer Ratigan had used and found similar types of images. Police said several of the girls in the pictures had been identified and were in the process of being interviewed.

Ratigan's family provided police with a host of camera-related items that detectives eventually were able to get a search warrant to review. One of the items given to police was a Walgreens One Hour Photo CD that police said contained 14 imaged of child pornography of a 3- to 4-year-old girl. A hard drive was also reviewed and police said four more images of child pornography were found on the drive.

Ratigan is currently being held in Clay County Jail.

On Thursday, the Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph released a statement about Ratigan:

"The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph is profoundly saddened to learn that Father Shawn Ratigan has been charged with the possession of child pornography. Charges came about after the diocese discovered troubling images on his personal computer and sought the advice of local law enforcement professionals.

"First and foremost, the diocese is concerned for the safety and welfare of the unidentified children and their families. We acknowledge that that the use of pornography is a very painful and corrosive influence in our culture, and we pray for the recovery of any child who has been exploited in this manner.

"Since January 2011, Father Ratigan has lived at a private priestsí residence in Independence, Missouri, and has had no parish assignment.

"As a community of faith, we are called to protect the life and dignity of all people, especially children who are vulnerable. Preventing and reporting the suspicion of abuse is a required response to what we are called to do as followers of Jesus."


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