Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to Pay for Failure to Report Abuse
Former Kansas City pastor sentenced to 50 years in federal prison
by Sep. 16, 2013|
In August 2012, Fr. Shawn Ratigan pleaded guilty to five counts of producing or attempting to produce child pornography. He received 10 years for each count and will serve his time in the Clay County Detention Center.
After the priest entered his guilty plea last year, the diocese filed a petition with the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he be laicized.
In a statement about the priest’s sentencing, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph said: “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 Ratigan in May 2011, the bishop said in a statement Thursday.
He outlined several steps the diocese has taken to address clergy sexual abuse, among them his appointment of 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,” Finn said.
Among other actions, the diocese created an Office of Child and Youth Protection to implement and improve safe environment training programs and outreach services to victims; codified a new diocesan policy for response to abuse allegations, “with the mandate that all reports of abuse are referred to civil authorities”; developed new universal code of ethics for all diocesan personnel; and trained more than 1,000 diocesan leaders in mandatory reporting and “in recognizing child pornography, child obscenity, child erotica and grooming.”
Diocesan authorities’ failure to immediately report a computer technician’s discovery of child pornography on a computer used by Ratigan, then pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Butler, led to Finn being charged with misdemeanors for failing to report suspected child abuse to state authorities. The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph faced similar charges.
The child pornography was first discovered in December 2010. Authorities were not notified until six months later, when a search of the priest’s family home turned up images of child pornography.
On Sept. 6, 2012, Finn was convicted of one count of failing to report suspected child abuse and acquitted on another count in a brief bench trial.
Jackson County Circuit Judge John M. Torrence issued the verdict and sentenced the bishop to two years’ probation. The charges carried a possible maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Torrence dismissed the charges against the diocese after sentencing the bishop.
Finn is the highest ranking U.S. Catholic official to face criminal charges related to child sex abuse.
Several of the steps taken by the diocese to address abuse, including mandatory training of all staff and all clergy and putting in place reporting requirements, were among conditions Torrence set for Finn’s probation.
“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,” the bishop said Thursday.
Catholic priest sentenced to 50 years for child porn
9/12/13 By Associated Press
Prosecutors had asked that he get 10 years in prison for each of five victims after he pleaded guilty to five counts of producing and trying to produce child porn.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City-area priest whose child pornography case led to a criminal conviction against a Roman Catholic bishop was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in federal prison.
Prosecutors had asked that the Rev. Shawn Ratigan be sentenced to 10 years in prison for each of five young victims after he pleaded guilty in August 2012 to five counts of producing and trying to produce child porn.
Ratigan, 47, was charged in May 2011 after police received a flash drive from his computer containing hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas.
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was convicted last September of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse to the state.
Prosecutors said the diocese learned about the photos on Ratigan’s computer on Dec. 16, 2010, after a technician found them on the priest’s laptop and alerted church officials. A day after the images were found, Ratigan missed Sunday Mass and was found unconscious in his garage with his motorcycle running and a suicide note nearby.
Instead of reporting Ratigan or the photos to law enforcement, as required by state law, Finn waited until the priest was released from the hospital and sent him out of state for psychiatric counseling.
When Ratigan returned to Missouri, Finn ordered him to stay at the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, a facility in Independence, where he could say Mass for the sisters.
The diocese turned the photos over to police in May 2011 after receiving reports that Ratigan had violated Finn’s order to avoid contact with children.
Missouri Diocese To Pay $600,000 Settlement In Child Pornography Case
Posted: 05/17/2013 2:31 am EDT
By David Gibson
Religion News Service
(RNS) The Catholic diocese in Missouri led by Bishop Robert Finn, who was convicted last year of failing to report a priest who was taking pornographic pictures of children, will pay a $600,000 settlement to the family of one of the priest’s victims.
The family filed the civil suit in federal court in 2011 against Finn, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., and the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who pleaded guilty last year to charges of producing child pornography.
Ratigan had taken hundreds of lewd and suggestive photos of young children; the lawsuit, which was settled on Tuesday (May 14), was filed by the parents of a girl who was 2 years old when Ratigan started photographing her in 2006.
“We hope this settlement comforts at least some of the many families who have suffered and are suffering because Bishop Robert Finn refused to call police, protect kids and monitor Father Shawn Ratigan,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Last September, in an arrangement with prosecutors, Finn was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report Ratigan to authorities as required by law. Finn and the diocese had received multiple complaints about Ratigan in the months preceding the priest’s arrest in 2011 and church officials had seen some of the pictures of children on his laptop computer in December 2010.
Despite calls for Finn to resign, he has remained as head of the diocese. Diocesan spokesman Jack Smith told The Kansas City Star that the payout would be covered by insurance.
The tab for Finn’s own defense amounted to $1.4 million, the diocese said last year, which was covered by insurance plus funds collected from parishes.
The judge in the civil lawsuit dismissed the claim that Finn and the diocese aided and abetted Ratigan in possessing pornography.
The diocese previously paid out $10 million in 2008 to settle cases by plaintiffs who alleged sexual abuse by 12 priests. It still faces dozens of other lawsuits related to abuse allegations against other priests.
CA- LA archbishop reneges on Mahony ‘discipline’
Posted by Joelle Casteix on May 10, 2013
LA’s archbishop claimed disgraced predecessor wouldn’t engage in “public ministry.” Now, he’s apparently – and quietly – reversed himself, further betraying thousands of abuse victims and hundreds of thousands of parishioners.
Today’s LA Times reports that Archbishop José Horacio Gomez is violating his pledge to forbid Cardinal Roger Mahony from performing confirmations. And Gomez is giving no explanations.
In the midst of a scandal, under the glare of klieg lights and the outrage of parishioners, bishops will promise anything and everything to everybody. Later, when public attention wanes, they’ll go straight – but quietly – back to “business as usual.” This is the sad, simple truth that most of us foolishly and repeatedly ignore and that enables bishops to keep right on endangering the flock, concealing the truth, and recycling the molesters.
This is the “same old, same old.” Bishops say they’ll oust credibly accused clerics at the first allegation, and they don’t. They say they’ll be “transparent” about clergy sex abuse cases, and they aren’t. They say they’ll monitor predator priests, and they don’t. They’ll pledge to treat victims with compassion, then they don’t.
Why can bishops get by with this? Because they’re monarchs. Because their flocks tolerate it. Because the public has a short attention span. Because we want to believe the best about others. Because we let ourselves be convinced that deliberate cover ups are actually just “mistakes” and that bishops are “learning” and “reforming” when they’re not.
Recent examples include:
–Newark Archbishop John Myers promises to keep admitted and convicted child predator Fr. Michael Fugee away from kids, but let’s and/or enables him to be a hospital chaplain, hear kids’ confessions, go to kids’ retreats, go on trips to Canada with kids, and work in parishes.
–Joliet Bishop Peter Sartain says serial child predator Fr. Carroll Howlin is suspended and the Vatican orders that he be kept away from kids, but the Chicago Tribune discovers that’s not happening:
–Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn said he kept Fr. Shawn Ratigan away from kids but evidence has surfaced showing that he did not.
We could go on and on. We rarely expect dictators to keep their promises, especially when they’ve long been shown to be corrupt. Why are our expectations different when dictators wrap themselves spiritual armor rather than secular armor?
Finally, on this Mother’s Day weekend, we feel sorry for the Los Angeles Catholic moms who approach their children’s confirmation with joy only to be dismayed and betrayed because Cardinal Mahony is on the altar still being held out as an honorable, trustworthy spiritual figure.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact – David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, email@example.com), Judy Jones 636-433-2511, firstname.lastname@example.org)