|Shawn Ratigan, Independence Priest, Accused of Possessing Up-skirt Photos of Children in Church
By Justin Kendal
May 20, 2011
Some stories make you question humanity. This is one of them. Shawn Ratigan, a priest at Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist in Independence, is accused of possessing up-skirt photos of young girls taken at the church and around the school.
Court documents say Ratigan's cache of child pornography was discovered when he took his laptop in for work in mid-December 2010. However, church officials didn't notify the authorities until last week (May 13). Not exactly sure why it took the church five months to contact authorities.
According to court records, a computer technician found multiple images of girls under the age of 12 -- mostly up-skirt photos (many clothed). However, one specific nude image of a girl's genitals was discovered. Ratigan had allegedly marked the image with the girl's name.
The tech returned the computer to the church and told them about the images. Church officials turned the computer over to the church diocese IT person for review.
On December 17, Ratigan was a no-show at the 8:30 a.m. mass. Church officials and EMTs found Ratigan unconscious in his closed garage with his motorcycle running. He'd also left a suicide note, apologizing to the church, the children and their families for the harm he'd caused. He was hospitalized and placed in psychiatric care.
The diocese copied the images found on the computer and gave the computer to Ratigan's family, who destroyed it.
Finally, on May 13, a disk with the images was given to detectives. Detectives determined that the images were taken by cell phone and digital cameras at locations in and around churches and schools associated with Ratigan.
Detectives also contacted a church in St. Joseph where Ratigan had previously worked. The church turned over a computer that Ratigan had used there and found similar images.
Several of the minors pictured have been identified and interviewed.
Ratigan's family also turned over several items to detectives, who discovered a CD in a Walgreens one-hour photo envelope. They found 14 images of child porn of a 3- to 4-year-old girl.
Ratigan was arrested Wednesday. He refused to speak with detectives. He's charged with three counts of possessing child pornography.
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