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New civil suits are filed against priest, bishop and KC diocese

Updated: 2013-05-22T04:31:23Z

By MARK MORRIS

The Kansas City Star

Civil suits accusing a Catholic priest and his superiors of child sexual abuse, child pornography and fraud were filed Tuesday in Jackson County.

The two new actions allege that Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph aided and abetted the Rev. Shawn Ratigan as he sexually abused and engaged in “child pornographic offenses” with two young girls while Ratigan was employed as a priest.

Ratigan, who has pleaded guilty in federal court to producing child porn and awaits sentencing, also is named as a defendant in the suits. He has not, however, responded to other civil actions filed against him.

In a prepared statement, the diocese condemned Ratigan’s “immoral and destructive” behavior. With regards to the suit, the statement said the suits contained some factual inaccuracies and statements that were irrelevant to their claims.

Last week the diocese settled a similar case, filed in federal court on behalf of a young northern Missouri girl, for $600,000, the diocese’s largest settlement in a single priest sex abuse case.

The pornography scandal exploded after a computer technician discovered hundreds of lewd photos of young girls on Ratigan’s laptop in December 2010. A Jackson County judge found Finn guilty last year of misdemeanor failure to report suspicions of child abuse to police or state child welfare authorities after the discovery of the photographs.

The most recent cases accused Ratigan, Finn and the diocese of invading the girls’ privacy. In both cases, the suits allege, the girls “possessed a reasonable expectation and right to keep her private parts private.”

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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