KANSAS CITY, Missouri - The Kansas City Police Department reports a lack of information as the reason why an investigation wasn’t launched in December. That’s when the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph was informed by a computer store that questionable photos were found on Father Shawn Ratigan’s computer.
An investigation wasn’t launched until last week when digital copies of the pictures were handed over to police. Shortly there after, detectives uncovered even more alleged pornographic pictures.
The Diocese has come under fire for its timeliness in this matter.
NBC Action News heard first hand from the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department why there wasn’t action taken in December.
Captain Steve Young explained, “A member of the Diocese contacted a member of this department and told that member of the department that they'd found a computer and on that computer was a single image of a naked young girl."
The Diocese asked if the photos were pornographic.
He continued, “The answer to that is no, it is not child porn. It is not a prosecutable offense."
Bishop Robert Finn said in a statement Friday, the Diocese did seek advice from its legal council. Finn said, “The photographs did not constitute pornography as they did not depict sexual conduct or contact."
Now, Finn regrets not pushing for a full investigation.
He said, “So many of our priests do a wonderful, wonderful job. The people here know that but they're very hurt. They're disappointed at the failure of our diocese, of me as a bishop."
Friday night, he address outraged parents at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kansas City, North, where Ratigan was last assigned.
Parents questions were echoed by a editor at the National Catholic Reporter. Managing Editor Dennis Coday asked, “The next question is what happened between December and May?"
Coday said the Catholic Church released a highly anticipated study on sexual abuse a day before Ratigan was charged. He explained part of it, “Another of their findings is there is no way to screen out people with pedophile tendency. There is no litmus test for that."
Since Ratigan was ordained just seven years ago, Coday said he would have been subject to a new sexuality program in seminary.
Ratigan will be in court on Monday. Until then, he remains at the Clay County Jail on suicide watch.
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