Grand Jury to Meet on Ratigan Case

By Mark Morris And Judy L. Thomas
Kansas City Star
August 24, 2011

A local grand jury is poised to explore the case of a priest already facing child pornography charges in state and federal courts, The Star has learned.

Grand jurors in Jackson County soon will hear evidence related to the Rev. Shawn Ratigan case, independent sources have told the newspaper.

The sources asked that their names not be used because of their close relationships to numerous parties affiliated with the case.

The topic and target of the grand jury probe are unclear, however a similar panel in U.S. District Court has appeared to focus on Ratigan’s conduct. The Star’s sources suggested that authorities now are concerned with how the Catholic hierarchy handled Ratigan’s alleged misdeeds.

A spokesman for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office declined to confirm or deny the possible existence of a grand jury exploring the Ratigan case.

Diocesan spokeswoman Rebecca Summers declined to comment on a television report that Bishop Robert Finn, who leads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, had been subpoenaed. She also would not comment on the emergence of a new grand jury investigation.

“We’ve been cooperating with law enforcement since May 12, when Monsignor (Robert) Murphy picked up the phone and telephoned the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department to discuss this with them,” Summers said. “We’ve been cooperating with them since then and have fully allowed ourselves to be interviewed and made ourselves available to the detectives.”

In May, Ratigan was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography in Clay County. Federal grand jurors later charged him with 13 counts of production, attempted production and possession of child porn.

In May 2010, the principal of a Catholic school had complained to diocesan officials about Ratigan’s purportedly inappropriate behavior around children. Other than counseling Ratigan to moderate his conduct, his church superiors took little substantial action.

In December, diocesan authorities found what prosecutors later alleged was child pornography on Ratigan’s computer. The church relieved him of his duties as pastor of a Northland church and assigned him to live at an Independence mission house, where he allegedly attempted to take pornographic photos of a young girl.

Finn has apologized for his handling of the case.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send e-mail to

To reach Judy L. Thomas, call 816-234-4334 or send e-mail to


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