Federal Grand Jury Indicts Kc Catholic Priest

August 9, 2011

A federal grand jury has indicted a Catholic priest on 13 counts of possessing and producing child pornography.

Shawn Ratigan, 45, is already facing state charges. Ratigan was the pastor at Kansas City's St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. He also served as chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Eucharist.

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Ratigan

KMBC's Micheal Mahoney reported that the indictment accuses Ratigan of 11 counts of production or an attempt to produce child porn. Prosecutors said Ratigan "exploited five minor victims." They say the victims range from 2 to 12 years old. According to the indictment, the exploitation took place in several locations, including a church choir loft.

The dates of the allegations of producing child pornography range from June 11, 2005 to April 5, 2010. The indictment said Ratigan took close-up photographs of two the victims while trying to pull their pants down as they slept. In both cases, the girls were between 5 and 9 years old. Prosecutors said Ratigan also took photographs that focused on the crotch region of girls under the age of 10.

[Read the Shawn Ratigan Federal Indictment]

"When a person who has been places in a position of trust exploits and customizes children, he victimizes the entire community," said U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips. “Today’s indictment sends a strong message that we will not tolerate this criminal behavior.”

Ratigan's arrest on the child porn charges earlier in the year launched a firestorm of controversy surrounding the Kansas City Catholic diocese and its leader, Bishop Robert Finn.

The Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph released the following statement about the indictment:

"The diocese expresses its profound concern for anyone who may have been harmed by Shawn Ratigan. At the same time, the diocese recognizes the special responsibility of our justice system in matters of this nature. Additionally, the diocese has pledged its continued cooperation with law enforcement representatives and is committed to the full implementation of the five-point action plan announced by Bishop Robert Finn on June 9."

Civil attorney Rebecca Randles represents alleged victims in the case. She said the church should have done more to keep Ratigan away from children.

"If you know that someone has those pictures on the computer, how can you let him be in a place where other children are? How can that happen?" she said.

Randles said the details of the indictment was alarming.

"I had known that there had been a revictimization, but to see it in black and white with the charges was gut-wrenching," she said. "I have to say it turns my stomach to know that those little children were victimized in more than one place on more than one occasion."

A victim's advocacy group called for additional charges to be filed against the diocese.

Each count of producing child pornography carries a minimum penalty of 15 years in federal prison without parole, a sentence that could go up to 30 years. The penalty for possessing child pornography is up to 10 years in federal prison.

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