Local priest has first court appearance on child porn charges

CLAY COUNTY, Missouri - The metro priest accused of having child pornography made his first court appearance. Shawn Ratigan's attorney entered a not guilty plea on the three counts of possessing child pornography that he faces.

Ratigan faces three counts of possessing child pornography. He appeared before a Clay County judge via video, as his attorney sat in the courtroom.

Shawn Ratigan, a priest at Sisters of St. Francis in Independence, is accused of possessing up-skirt photos of young girls taken at the church and around the school. Court documents say Ratigan's cache of child pornography was discovered when he took his laptop in for repair in December of 2010.

However, church officials didn't notify authorities until last week. Detectives have also contacted a church in St. Joseph where Ratigan previously worked. The church turned over a computer that Ratigan had used and police found more child pornography.

Ratigan's attorney, PJ O'Conner says he is still waiting to see the evidence against his client.

"We plead not guilty to all three counts of possession of child pornography. And at this point there's really not a lot I can comment
On. We haven't had a copy of any of the police reports, none of the discovery," said PJ O'Conner.

Ratigan remains on suicide watch, he tried to kill himself back in December, after the initial images were found.
His next court appearance is June 16.

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