"When a person who has been placed in a position of trust exploits and victimizes children, he victimizes the entire community," said U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips.
The indictment said Ratigan took compromising pictures of at least five girls. The suspected victims' ages ranged from 2 -12 years old. Prosecutors said the abuse began in 2005.
The parents of Ratigan's suspected victims said the federal charges vindicate their allegations.
"My clients feel devastated, flabbergasted, but also vindicated. It's one of those situation swhere they go through a whole serious of emotions that you could have in a situation like this," said attorney Rebecca Randles.
Randles is representing some of the parents in civil court. She said the diocese should have removed Ratigan in 2010, after they found pictures of children on a computer. The indictment said the last exploitation of a child was in April 2011.
The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City released the following statement:
"The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph has learned today of the action of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in the case of Shawn Ratigan. The diocese expresses its profound concern for anyone who may have been harmed by Shawn Ratigan. At the same time, the diocese recognizes the special responsibility of our justice system in matters of this nature.
Additionally, the diocese has pledged its continued cooperation with law enforcement representatives and is committed to the full implementation of the five-point action plan announced by Bishop Robert Finn on June 9."
Ratigan is also facing three child porn charges in Clay County.