Shawn Ratigan, Who Doesn't like Prison Much, Gets to Spend 50 Years There
By Steve Vockrodt
September 12, 2013
Shawn Ratigan spent part of his freedom using his role as a priest in the Catholic Church to help him victimize five young children.
Given that he's 47 years old, his 50-year sentence handed down on Thursday means that he has probably seen the last of life outside the four walls of a prison cell. The disgraced priest has no opportunity for parole.
The Independence man was the parish pastor at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Kansas City as well as St. Mary's Church in St. Joseph and St. Joseph's in Easton, Missouri. He admitted guilt in 2012 to several child-pornography-related charges brought about by his habit of taking sexually explicit photos of young children, who ranged in age from 2 to 12, after gaining their trust as a member of the church. Beyond the five victims prosecutors know about, Ratigan was also found to be taking surreptitious nonsexual photos of young children in their bathing suits and at places like the grocery store.
According to The Kansas City Star, Ratigan asked federal judge Gary Fenner to think about handing him a 15-year sentence. It turns out he doesn't care for spending time in prison.
"I hope that you won't sentence me to a life of hell on earth," Ratigan said, according to the Star. "Prison is hell, and I know I deserve 15 years. But 50 years? Come on, I don't think so."
Hell on earth it is for Ratigan. He tried to escape his fate with a suicide attempt in 2010, but succeeded only in leaving behind an incriminating suicide note.
Ratigan's case was a major one among the many child sexual-exploitation cases involving priests and pastors in the Catholic Church, and the church's subsequent efforts to cover it up. Ratigan's case led to the first prosecution of a bishop, in this case Robert Finn, for not going to authorities when he learned of the priest's predilection toward young girls. Finn was convicted and was sentenced to two years of probation.