Just one week after the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph settled a $600,000 civil lawsuit with a family swept up in the diocese's child-pornography scandal, it faces two new suits. A lawyer representing two Missouri girls filed civil suits Tuesday against the diocese, Bishop Robert Finn (who already pleaded guilty to misdemeanors during the scandal) and the Rev. Shawn Ratigan.
In August, Ratigan pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of producing child pornography. He's currently in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary awaiting sentencing. The AP reports that the new suits claim Ratigan took sexually explicit photos of the children and that he might have shared them online.
Perhaps more damning is that the plaintiffs claim the photos of the children were taken after Ratigan had been warned by diocese brass to stop being so physical with children. Church members had claimed, for instance, that Ratigan allowed kids to sit on his lap and reach into his pocket for candy. Vicar General Robert Murphy scolded Ratigan over his behavior. The diocese told the AP that they condemn all of Ratigan's criminal actions, but it also said the lawsuit had inaccuracies.
The diocese, Ratigan and Finn would be smart to get used to this kind of suit. Remember, the diocese knew for months that Ratigan had inappropriate pictures of children on his laptop before it turned the images over to police. Ratigan was arrested in May 2011.