Lawsuit Hints at Cover-up in Priest's Case

June 2, 2011

[with video]

[the lawsuit]

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a young girl accuses a Kansas City priest of taking pornographic pictures of her and claims the Roman Catholic diocese tried to cover the matter up.

The priest, 45-year-old Shawn Ratigan, is jailed in Clay County on $200,000 bond on three counts of possessing child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Kansas City accuses Ratigan of possessing and producing pornographic photos of the girl. It also alleges that Bishop Robert Finn possessed child porn because the diocese kept images found on Ratigan's laptop computer in December until giving it over to police late last month.

Shawn Ratigan

"They had indications long before this guy was a problem. What else do they need to know?" attorney Jeff Anderson told KMBC's Micheal Mahoney.

Attorneys for the alleged victim said the diocese knew about Ratigan's behavior since 2006 but did nothing about it.

"They mishandled it. They blew it, and it's alarming," Anderson said.

Two years ago, the Kansas City Catholic Diocese, as part of a settlement, agreed to report suspected abuse problems to state authorities.

"It is almost inconceivable that Bishop Finn didn't know about it or that his No. 2 keeps crucial information from him," said David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

A statement from the diocese said it is deeply concerned for the well being of the child and her family. It also encouraged anyone with information on the Ratigan case to call police.


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