MO - Abuse victims prod prosecutor
- They want grand jury investigation into church
- Twice, SNAP has written Buchanan County official
- But so far, support group has gotten no response from him
- They repeat their plea to KC bishop to write families of St. Joe students
- If he refuses, then local school principals should do this ‘simple outreach,’ SNAP says
- Controversial cleric also spent time at a third church in the area while pastor was sick
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse victims will urge
- the Buchanan county prosecutor to respond to their letters and open a grand jury investigation into top church officials who have ignored and concealed child sex crimes, and
- the head of the KC-St. Joe Catholic diocese to write current and former Catholic school staff and students (especially from a St. Joe high school) about a priest who faces child porn charges and took some St. Joe kids on trips to Guatemala..
They will also urge anyone (but especially current and former church staff and members) to call policed with any information or suspicions they may have about clergy sex crimes.
Wednesday, Aug 24, at 11:00 a.m.
Outside the Buchanan Count Courthouse, 411 Jules Street, St. Joseph, MO
Two child sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest (SNAPnetwork.org), including a St. Louis woman who is the organization's outreach director
Twice, SNAP has written Buchanan County Prosecutor Dwight K. Scroggins, Jr. (816-271-1480), asking him to convene a grand jury to investigate possible crimes by Catholic clerics and staff relating to the child pornography belonging to Fr. Shawn Ratigan (on June 17 and again on August 17). So far, Scroggins has not responded.
SNAP fears that others who may have been exploited by Ratigan may still be “suffering in shame, isolation and self blame” and others who may have been involved in hiding his crimes may still be sitting on information that might help local law enforcement.
Ratigan worked in Buchanan County for roughly four years, from July '05-June '09, according to BishopAccountability.org He was assigned to St. Mary's parish in St. Joseph's (816-279-1154) and St. Joseph Parish in Easton (816-473-2011) and Bishop LeBlond High School (816-279-1629 ext. 111) in St. Joseph. He also reportedly spent considerable time at Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in St. Joseph when the pastor there was ill for months.(816-232-7763).
At least twice, Ratigan, took LaBlond High School kids on trips to Guatemala. SNAP fears he may have exploited either some of the St. Joe kids or Guatamalan kids.. http://catholickey.com/index.php3?gif=news.gif&mode=view&issue=20070817&article_id=4601
The group has asked Bishop Finn to write every current and former LaBlond student and employee about Ratigan, urging them to contact police and prosecutors with any suspicions or information they may have about clergy sex crimes and cover ups. Finn has not responded.
SNAP wants Scroggins to act even though Ratigan already faces state and federal child porn charges. The group believes local law enforcement also needs to “look hard” at church officials who concealed his crimes for months.
Ratigan was arrested in May on three felony counts of possessing child pornography. (http://www.nbcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_missouri/priest-charged-with-possession-of-child-pornography) It was later discovered that church officials had known about the photographs since December 2010 (http://www.examiner.net/news/x31867585/Bishop-explains-diocese-actions-in-Ratigan-arrest) and had been warned about Ratigan's behavior in May 2010. (http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/bishop-i-didnt-read-letter-warning-priests-behavior)
A recent civil lawsuit charges that Catholic officials were warned about Ratigan as far back as 2006.
Since Ratigan's arrest, four other clerics have been accused or removed for credible abuse allegations, including the diocesan second-in-command, Msgr. Robert Murphy. (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/amid-abuse-controversy-kc-diocese-appoints-new-vicar-for-clergy/) They are Fr. __ Tierney, Fr. Bede Parry, Fr. __ Uranic, and a seminarian who was studying for the KC diocese, Nicolas Pinkston.
Ratigan was also involved in the Boy Scouts (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news5/2005_01_NCCS_Vocations_Committee_Ratigan_Scouting_Story.pdf)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.