Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catholic priest Shawn Ratigan facing federal child porn charges

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Shawn Ratigan is now facing federal charges.
  • Shawn Ratigan is now facing federal charges.
The Kansas City-Catholic Diocese screwed up big time in moving the Rev. Shawn Ratigan to the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Eucharist in Independence. By that time, the diocese had been alerted to questionable photos on the priest's laptop computer. Ratigan had apparently attempted suicide and failed. A year earlier, the principal at St. Patrick School wrote a memo warning the diocese that teachers and parents were concerned about Ratigan's "inappropriate behavior with children." Still, citing a priest shortage, Bishop Robert Finn moved Ratigan to Independence (and detectives still wouldn't receive a disk of the images until May 13, 2011).

A federal grand jury yesterday showed why that was a mistake, returning a 13-count indictment against the 45-year-old Roman Catholic priest, alleging that he possessed and produced child pornography, and alleging that he did so after his transfer.

Among the allegations: After Ratigan was moved to the Independence church — on Easter Sunday 2011 — Ratigan allegedly took close-up pictures of a 12-year-old girl's crotch area while she was wearing shorts. Ratigan allegedly took the photos at an angle shot while the girl was standing. The photos were taken on the grounds of the Vincentian Mission House in Independence. They were also taken before the diocese alerted the police to Ratigan's alleged collection of up-skirt photos taken of young girls.

The feds allege that this wasn't the first time Ratigan had victimized this young girl, whom they refer to as Jane Doe No. 1. Ratigan is accused of exploiting the girl when she was 6 years old by taking a picture of the girl with her panties pulled aside, showing her vagina and pubic area. The feds say the image was discovered on Ratigan's laptop computer on December 14, 2010.

The feds allege that Ratigan exploited four other minor victims.

This chart breaks down the timeline of Ratigans alleged abuse.
  • This chart breaks down the timeline of Ratigan's alleged abuse.

Ratigan is accused of using a 2-year-old girl, referred to as Jane Doe No. 2, to produce child porn beginning on May 17, 2006. Ratigan allegedly took photos of the girl's naked vagina and labia in the buildings of St. Joseph's Church in Easton, Missouri. Between May 22 and May 31 of 2006, Ratigan allegedly took pornographic pictures of the girl in the church's choir loft. On June 3, 2009, when Jane Doe No. 2 was 5 years old, Ratigan allegedly took up-skirt shots of the girl's pubic area. Between June 12 and June 15 of 2009, Ratigan allegedly took at least 40 up-skirt photos of the girl.

Between September 1 and November 1 of 2007, Ratigan is accused of taking pornographic photos of a 5-year-old girl referred to as Jane Doe No. 3. Ratigan is also accused of taking close-up shots of the girl's pubic area while trying to pull down the girl's pants, while she was sleeping, between March 1 and 31 of 2008. The abuse allegedly continued when the girl was 6 or 7 years old when Ratigan allegedly took photos of the girl's exposed vagina between April 9, 2008, and April 5, 2010.

U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips announces charges against Ratigan.
  • U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips announces charges against Ratigan.
On July 6, 2009, Ratigan allegedly took close-up shots of a 7-year-old girl's crotch area while she wore a bathing suit. She is referred to as Jane Doe No. 4.

Ratigan is accused of pulling down the pants of a minor girl referred to as Jane Doe No. 5 while she was sleeping and taking pornographic photos. The abuse allegedly occurred between August 1, 2008, and September 1, 2009, when the girl was 8 and 9 years old.

The feds also allege that Ratigan possessed an external hard drive containing child porn between January 1 and 15 of 2011.

If convicted, Ratigan is facing a minimum of 15 years in federal prison without parole for the production of child porn. For possession, he's looking at up to 10 years in federal prison.

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