Statement of Bishop Robert Finn on Sentencing of Shawn Ratigan
Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
September 12, 2013
Today, Shawn Ratigan was sentenced in Federal Court on a number of charges related to the production and possession of child pornography for which he pled guilty. To victims of abuse, their families and the community at large, I renew my heartfelt apology and firm pledge to make our Catholic institutions second to none in the protection of children and the vulnerable.
Much has already been done to strengthen a culture of protection in the local Church since the arrest of Shawn Ratigan. I appointed former Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor Jenifer Valenti to independently receive and investigate any and all suspicion of abuse, grooming behavior and boundary violations in our Catholic institutions. Under her direction, every single reported suspicion of abuse is immediately forwarded to law enforcement. All reported suspicion of abuse against minors is additionally referred to the Missouri Children’s Division.
The Diocese also created an Office of Child and Youth Protection under the direction of Carrie Cooper. This team of trained and dedicated professionals is charged with implementing and improving our Safe Environment Training Programs, Victim Outreach Services and Investigation and Action on suspicions of abuse. In the last year alone, this child protection team has:
• Codified new Diocesan Policy for Response to allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors or Vulnerable Adults with the mandate that all reports of abuse are referred to civil authorities.
• Developed new universal code of ethics for all diocesan personnel: Ethics and Integrity in Ministry (EIM).
• Partnered with The United States Attorney’s Office, FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to develop current topical training.
• Trained over 1,000 diocesan leaders in Mandatory Reporting, and in recognizing child pornography, child obscenity, child erotica, and grooming.
• Expanded Victim Services to provide direct care to survivors of abuse and initiate outreach efforts.
• Evaluated background screening program, and implemented a new policy to repeat background screenings every five years.
• Provided comprehensive resources and training to Safe Environment Coordinators (SEC’s) at all parishes and schools supporting their important efforts to ensure and enforce safe environment requirements are met throughout the diocese.
I am hopeful that these many proactive steps in promoting a culture of protection, awareness, investigation and immediate action on suspicions of abuse will help rebuild broken trust and make our local Church a model for the protection of children and the vulnerable.
A full report on the activities of the Office of Child and Youth Protection is available here.