|Group Demands Officer Face Scrutiny for Role in Church-Abuse Scandal
By Deann Smith, Stacey Cameron
July 19, 2011
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - A group representing alleged Catholic Church sex abuse victims wants the Kansas City Police Department to investigate the conduct of one of its officers.
The support group called Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests held a news conference Monday afternoon. The group is calling on Police Chief Jim Corwin to investigate Capt. Richard Smith.
But the department says Smith's actions have previously been reviewed and he was cleared of any misconduct. No further investigation is planned.
"We're not saying we believe Capt. Smith did anything wrong," said SNAP representative David Clohessy said. "We simply don't know."
Smith has come under fire from SNAP because of a phone conversation that Smith had with church leaders in December.
That's when church officials learned that a priest, Shawn Ratigan, allegedly had disturbing images of young girls on his computer. Church leaders contacted Smith, a member of the parish, and described a single image over the phone.
Smith concluded that the images did not constitute illegal child pornography. Smith is a member of an internal church review board that examines sexual abuse allegations lodged against priests.
As a result of that conversation, SNAP alleges that Bishop Robert Finn chose not to turn over more images to police.
The 45-year-old Ratigan has been charged in Clay County Circuit Court with violating Missouri child pornography laws. Prosecutors allege that Ratigan took lewd pictures of young girls, which police in court documents say they found uploaded on his personal computer and a church computer.
Ratigan has pleaded not guilty.
The diocese didn't give the images to police until May. In the ensuing five months, Ratigan remained with the diocese. Diocese officials have said they contacted police in May after Ratigan ignored warnings to stay away from children.
Among the sexually explicit images allegedly found on Ratigan's computer was the picture described over the phone to Smith.
Clohessy said he finds it troublesome that Finn chose the one police officer who serves on Finn's "hand-picked sex abuse panel." The group also questions whether it's appropriate for the department to allow Smith to continue serving on the panel.
Smith could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
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