Local News Spotlight

Lawsuit filed against priest convicted in child pornography case

Updated: 2012-11-02T22:26:28Z

By JUDY L. THOMAS

The Kansas City Star

Another sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed against a Kansas City priest who is awaiting sentencing on a federal child pornography conviction.

The civil lawsuit, filed Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court, alleges that the Rev. Shawn Ratigan engaged a girl in sexually explicit conduct from 2009 to 2011 when she was 10 to 12 years old.

The suit was filed on behalf of the girl — identified as Jane Doe 96 — by her parents. It seeks unspecified damages and is the fifth lawsuit to be filed against Ratigan involving child pornography allegations.

Like the others, the lawsuit also names Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as defendants, saying that Catholic officials had been warned about Ratigan’s troubling behavior and knew of disturbing images on his laptop computer but failed to take immediate action.

The diocese issued a statement in response to the lawsuit, expressing “our profound sorrow for any harm or grief visited upon any child or any parent by the actions of Shawn Ratigan.”

The diocese also said the lawsuit “includes many statements that are irrelevant to the various claims asserted and includes a number of factual inaccuracies.”

According to the lawsuit, Ratigan took pictures of the girl in the nude as well as with her underclothes arranged to expose her naked buttocks and vaginal area. Some pictures were taken in April 2011, the lawsuit alleges, several months after the diocese discovered the photos on Ratigan’s computer.

Ratigan, 47, is awaiting sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty in August to five counts of producing or attempting to produce child pornography. In September, a Jackson County circuit judge found Finn guilty of failing to report suspected child abuse involving Ratigan and sentenced the bishop to two years’ probation.

To reach Judy L. Thomas, call 816-234-4334 or send email to jthomas@kcstar.com

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