|Investigation of Priest Yields More Computer Images of a Child
By Judy L. Thomas and Glenn E. Rice
Kansas City Star
July 6, 2011
Additional images of a child have surfaced in an investigation of a priest charged with possessing child pornography.
Kansas City police found the images on a computer at an Independence priests' residence where the Rev. Shawn F. Ratigan was living before being charged, documents show.
During his time at the residence, Ratigan had been instructed by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to stay away from children and not to have access to computers and cameras.
A search warrant request filed in Jackson County Circuit Court in June shows that Kansas City police examined two guest computers at the Vincentian Parish Mission Center on May 20.
Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp confirmed on Tuesday that a search warrant had been carried out but said he could provide no further details.
"The only thing we can say right now is that we received information that there was some evidence here in Jackson County," Snapp said.
Ratigan has pleaded not guilty in Clay County to three counts of possessing child pornography. His attorney, John P. O'Connor, declined to comment Tuesday.
On a computer in the Vincentian mailroom, police found several emails in a Yahoo account that contained thumbnail images of at least one child, according to the documents. Several of the images were taken from an angle that showed the child's exposed underwear.
The account was in the name of "sratigan," the documents said.
The diocese was alerted about Ratigan in mid-December when a technician fixing his laptop computer discovered disturbing images, according to court documents.
The technician gave the laptop to officials at St. Patrick Catholic Church in the Northland, telling them what he'd found.
The next day, church officials found Ratigan unconscious from a suicide attempt at his residence.
After psychiatric treatment, he was reassigned to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist religious order in Independence, where he lived at the adjoining Vincentian center. Diocesan spokeswoman Rebecca Summers said Tuesday that when Ratigan was reassigned, he was told to avoid children, computers and cameras.
Ratigan was arrested May 18.
Rebecca Randles, an attorney for the family of one of Ratigan's alleged victims, said the Jackson County search warrant "shows a clear failure on the part of the diocese."
"If they'd turned him over to civil authorities in the first place, he would have never had the opportunity to download images onto that computer or to take inappropriate pictures of more children," she said.
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