KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Rebecca Randles knows what it’s like to go nose-to-nose with the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. She was instrumental in the 2008 settlement in which the diocese paid out $10 million and agreed to 19 non-monetary commitments.
The case included more than 40 victims over a span of several decades.
She explained why she's been so deeply involved, "This is the person who is the arbiter of all things moral so where is the child going to go? And besides, how many nine year olds understand what sexual abuse is? They don't have any clue what's going on."
So, Thursdays accusations and charges against another priest, while shocking, is nothing new to Randle.
Father Shawn Ratigan, ordained in 2004, was charged with three felony counts of possessing child pornography. The evidence was found on his computer in December 2010. A day later, he attempted to commit suicide. Since then, Ratigan was reassigned to a convent.
Late last week, the Diocese handed over a CD of pornographic pictures to detectives. On May 16, a church in St. Joseph, Missouri also provided detectives with a desktop computer that Ratigan used as a personal computer while serving at the church.
Detectives also obtained items from the family including a Walgreens photo CD and hard drive.
Potential victims are being interviewed by police. It’s unknown how many victims there might be. Though, several of the pictures were identified to show a girl between the age of 3 and 4 years old.
Randles said the Diocese should have been acting under the Mandatory Reporting Law of Missouri which dictates that any abuse against a child be reported immediately. She’s investigating if the Diocese neglected to do so.
She explained, "In the situation where there's even a reasonable suspicion to suspect that a child is being abused, there is an absolute duty to report that to DFS."
Also, she explained the 2008 settlement between the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph and more than 40 victims included a list of 19 non-monetary commitments made by the diocese that should have curbed this problem.
Number 14 in this list reads:
“The Diocese shall continue to follow mandatory state reporting requirements and Virtus guidelines in reporting the suspected sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement and child protection authorities. At the request of the victim or other party reporting childhood sexual abuse to the Diocese, the Diocese will report such abuse to law enforcement and child protection authorities regardless of the age of the victim at the time the report is made.”
Victims gathered at Randles office in Midtown Kansas City on Friday Afternoon. She says calls from victims have been flooding her phones. Outraged victims from the 2008 case want answers.
Michael Hunter, a victim and leader with SNAP, said, "I don't have compassion for the church covering it up and this was another attempt to cover it up in some way."
His concerns were echoed by Tom Caffrey, a father of one of the victims. Caffrey's son was sexually abused by a priest named in the 2008 case. He continues to attend a Catholic church but his trust has been shaken again.
Caffrey said, "You know, you let them serve mass and be around father, and father takes advantage of it. That's extreme violation of trust."
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest Missouri News
A Christian sports camp network based in Branson is facing two lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of young male campers by an ex-director who is serving a long prison sentence for sexual abuse of boys.