Survivor Calls for Grand Jury in Priest Case

By Kim Norvell
St. Joseph News-Press
July 21, 2011

Jessica Stewart/St. Joseph News-Press Barbara Dorris, victims outreach director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, talks with the media Wednesday afternoon in front of Bishop LeBlond High School.

A survivor of clergy abuse is calling on the Buchanan County prosecutor to open a grand jury investigation into Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph leaders who may have concealed child sex crimes.

Barbara Dorris, victims outreach coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), spoke in front of Bishop LeBlond High School on Wednesday, asking area Catholic officials to take necessary steps to support and encourage potential victims of clergy sex abuse to step forward.

Since the arrest of Father Shawn Ratigan, who had ties to two Northwest Missouri churches, as well as Bishop LeBlond, many allegations have been made that the bishop and other top diocesan officials concealed his crimes.

Ms. Dorris said SNAP is hoping Prosecutor Dwight Scroggins will open a grand jury investigation into church leaders, as well as Rev. Ratigan, to answer questions that have emerged as more allegations against diocesan clergy come to light.

"How extensive are these crimes taking place in the diocese? Was everything turned over to the prosecutors?" Ms. Dorris said the group wonders. "What else don't we know about?"

Mr. Scroggins could not be reached for comment Wednesday regarding any plans for a grand jury investigation.

The group is also calling on Bishop LeBlond officials to contact former students who took a mission trip to Guatemala with Rev. Ratigan in 2007, to notify them of the allegations against him. They also ask them to notify church officials in San Andreas Itzapa, the town in Guatemala that Rev. Ratigan visited.

Rev. Ratigan, who served as the parochial administrator for both St. Mary Church in St. Joseph and St. Joseph Mission in Easton, Mo., as well as the chaplain at Bishop LeBlond, was arrested and charged on May 18 on three counts of possessing child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held in the Clay County jail on a $200,000 cash bond.


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