KANSAS CITY, Missouri - The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, a bishop. and a priest now face a civil lawsuit, which alleges that Father Shawn Ratigan created child pornography, and the diocese distributed the pornographic images.
At a news conference on Thursday, the Jeff Anderson and Associates law firm, announced their civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert Finn and Father Shawn Ratigan. The lawsuit alleges that the Diocese and Finn violated federal and state child pornography and child abuse laws when they concealed evidence of FRatigan creating child pornography by photographing and being sexually inappropriate with young parish girls.
The lawsuit also accuses the Diocese of possessing and distributing child pornography. The court documents allege that the Diocese and Bishop Finn possessed the child pornography for approximately six months and concealed the images from law enforcement, in order to protect the Diocese, Bishop Finn and Father Ratigan from scandal.
In May, Ratigan pleaded not guilty to the possession of child porn charges. Now he faces this lawsuit from the parents of a 7-year-old parish girl. Lawyers say Ratigan took pictures of the girl when she was as young as 3 years old. They say Ratigan was working for the church in Easton, Missouri at the time.
They accuse Ratigan and Finn of concealing sexually inappropriate photos found on Ratigan's computer in order to avoid a scandal within the Diocese. Finn has conceded he didn't heed warnings about Ratigan from a concerned school principal early enough.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph's communication director, Rebecca Summers, released a statement on Thursday regarding the lawsuit , which read in part:
"First and foremost, the diocese is deeply concerned for the well-being of this child and her family. We urge anyone within the community who has information about the actions of Shawn Ratigan to make a confidential report to Detective Maggie McGuire, at (816) 584-6633."
The allegations against the Catholic Church have caused a local man to withdraw his pursuit of becoming a deacon.
Parishioners at Holy Family Catholic Church learned that Jim McConnell will not take his vows to become a deacon this weekend.
The cited, “the recent disclosure of failures within the diocese to protect the people.”
McConnell said, “To me, this breakdown in the system that was put in place to protect God’s children is inexcusable.”
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