More problems for the local Catholic diocese

INDEPENDENCE, Missouri - More problems arise for the local Catholic diocese.

Police say they're uncovered new evidence against Father Shawn Ratigan, who is already charged with possessing child porn.

Police say they've uncovered more images of a child on another computer used by Ratigan. The attorney representing as many as 10 victims' families said it's no big surprise.

Attorney Rebecca Randles said Ratigan, who's been jailed since May 19th in Clay County for possessing child pornography on his own laptop computer, has received formal complaints from schools and parents since 2006.

Attorney Randles, said, "There's no telling how many children he had access to in his entire priesthood to abuse in this manner."

And now the latest: Kansas City police say they've discovered new images on a guest computer at a convent, Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist and the adjoining Vincentian parish in Independence.

Randles said it's the place the priest was quietly sent to by the diocese.

There, among nuns, Ratigan was instructed to stay away from children and not have access to computers or cameras.

But Randles said that's not what happened.

Randles said, "They have retreats for children and dinners for children. It's not a place where there are no children."

She said the parents -- perhaps even the nuns -- didn't really know why he was relocated there. In fact, Randles said schools encouraged children to write the priest "get well" cards after the diocese told them Father Ratigan had been relocated after a motorcycle accident. She said the diocese said the priest "was ill".

But Randles said the diocese had a legal obligation to report Ratigan to authorities.
In a 2008 settlement between 47 victims and the church, Randles said part of the written agreement was that the diocese would report any future problems to civil authorities.

Randles said, "The unfortunate thing is that almost all priests are wonderful but everyone has a stain because no one knows if the diocese is withholding information."

The diocese told NBC Action News this latest discovery is something they know nothing about.

Randles said the new images point to a possibility that there are likely more victims and images out there. She said so many parents have no idea if there are images of their children on phones or the internet.

Randles said, "For most of the parents it's mind bogglingly sad. They can't figure out how do you protect your child. How do you talk to a 5, 6 7 year old about this kind of thing?"

Ratigan has pleaded not guilty to possessing child pornography in Clay County.

Kansas City police are still investigating the new Independence evidence before deciding whether to recommend any charges to the Jackson County prosecutor.
 

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