KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A new lawsuit has been filed in United States District Court - Western District of Missouri against Bishop Robert Finn, and the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph by the family of one of the alleged victims of Father Shawn Ratigan, according to a news release .
Co-counselor Rebecca Randles told NBC Action News the suit was filed using Masha's Law. It's a federal law that aims to penalize people who look at or create child pornography. Randles explained, "Masha's Law arises out of a young girl who was subjected to child pornography for many man years and then she petitioned Congress for a law that would make specific penalties against those who possess child pornography."
The penalty passed by Congress is a $150,000 fine to each individual who views or possesses the pornographic images.
Because of that language, Randles and her co-counsel were able to name the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph and Bishop Robert Finn in the lawsuit too. It claims that because the Diocese held onto the images for six months before giving them to police, that both are guilty of possessing child pornography.
The family of this young girl, only named as Jane Doe 186, wants this lawsuit to go to trial.
If it does go to trial, Ratigan would be the first person to ever face a jury trial under Masha's Law. Two other civil cases have been waged against Ratigan. One of those was filed using Masha's Law too.
Randles says the public should be prepared to learn about even more civil suits against Ratigan. She is currently working with at least one other family, maybe more, that claim their child is a victim of Ratigan's pornography production.
The official complaint can be found at the representing attorney's web site at: www.AndersonAdvocates.com.
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph released the following statement Thursday regarding the lawsuit:
"Through media representatives, the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph has been made aware of the filing of a civil suit in the United States District Court of Western Missouri by parents and guardians of a child photographed by Shawn Ratigan. The complaint alleges that the photographs were taken in 2008 and 2009 and depict a fully-clothed child.
While the diocese has noted many inaccurate statements in the civil complaint, it intends to place these false statements into the hands of the court.
The fundamental concern of the diocese is for the child and her family. The actions attributed to Shawn Ratigan betrayed their trust and violated the dignity of their daughter.
To ensure that every report of sexual abuse is addressed thoroughly and immediately, Bishop Robert Finn appointed Jenifer Valenti as Ombudsman in June 2011. The Ombudsman receives and investigate all reports of sexual misconduct or suspicious behavior by clergy, lay employees and volunteers in the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph. Once investigated, Valenti presents the information to an Independent Review Board, a group of professionals not employed by the diocese. The Independent Review Board makes recommendations to the bishop regarding the fitness for ministry or continued employment of the accused. The diocese urges anyone with knowledge of sexual abuse – current or historical – to make a confidential report to the Ombudsman, at (816) 812-2500, or JeniferValenti@att.net."
Ratigan was arrested in May, six months after questionable photos were found on his computer. The Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph was made aware of the images but the pictures weren't shown to police for another six months. Bishop Finn and his team have been criticized for their response to the allegations and questionable pictures. Since then, Finn has enacted a five point plan. The hope was that the plan would shore up the diocesan procedures regarding allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy.
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