KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Rev. Shawn Ratigan pleaded guilty to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to produce child pornography in federal court on Thursday.
He faces at least 15 years in prison.
"Today's guilty plea required the defendant to publicly admit that he victimized five young children over the course of several years," David Ketchmark, acting U.S. Attorney for the western district of Missouri, said in a statement. "Each of Ratigan's victims is represented in this guilty plea so that each child will receive the justice she deserves.
The 46-year-old Kansas City priest was charged with six counts of production of child pornography, two counts of possession of child pornography and five counts of attempted production of child pornography last August.
The indictment alleged he took explicit pictures of unsuspecting female children from several locations - including a church choir loft.
Read the original federal indictment here: http://bit.ly/MfuBjG
His attorney announced Wednesday that he would plead guilty to at least some of the 13 charges.
Ratigan was also charged with three child pornography counts in Clay County in May 2011 after officials with the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph turned over images taken from Ratigan's computer to police.
According to the probable cause statement, the Kansas City Police Department was notified that in December 2010, a technician working on Ratigan's computer discovered several graphic images of females under the age of 12. The IT worker returned the computer to the church and told officials what he had found.
Read the probable cause statement here: http://bit.ly/M6yImQ
Ratigan failed to show up for 8:30 mass the next morning. Church officials and emergency workers located an unconscious Ratigan in his garage with the door closed and motorcycle running. A suicide note was found at his residence, in which he wrote he was sorry to the church, the kids and his family.
But instead of reporting the suspected abuse, Bishop Robert Finn sent Ratigan to a hospital for psychiatric care.
The diocese didn't turn over evidence to law enforcement until May 2011, after Finn learned the priest had violated orders to stay away from children.
Both Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were charged with the two misdemeanor counts of failure of mandated reporter to report in October 2011.
Read the indictment here: http://bit.ly/T55GnS
That trial is set for September 24.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.