MO - Shocking new lawsuit filed vs. porn priest

  • In March, bishop gave cleric permission to be near children
  • His being with kids was no mistake, suit says, but Finn’s deliberate choice
  • While supposedly “restricted,” cleric was on computer & travelling a lot
  • Then, less than three months ago, troubled Catholic priest exploited another girl
  • Self help group blasts diocese for not putting Ratigan in secure treatment facility

WHAT:
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will announce a new civil lawsuit against the KC Catholic diocese and a jailed priest who faces both state and federal child porn charges. The suit alleges that KC’s bishop
-- specifically told the accused priest, just five months ago, that he could go to a girl’s first communion, and
-- ignored complaints from local nuns and priests who complained that this spring, despite alleged “restrictions,” the priest was spending lots of time on the computer and travelling around on his motorcycle.

WHEN:
TODAY, Thursday, August 11, 1:45 p.m.

WHERE:
Outside the KC Catholic diocese headquarters, 20 West 9th (corner of Baltimore) in downtown KC MO

WHO:
Several members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (www.SNAPnetwork.org), including a St. Louis man who is the organization’s long time director

WHY:
The new lawsuit charges that, just four months ago, Fr. Shawn Ratigan was took “lewd and lacivious” photos of a now nine year old girl. It contains several startling revelations that contradict earlier claims by church officials.

First, Bishop Robert Finn’s public relations staffers have repeatedly said that this spring, Fr. Ratigan disobeyed Finn’s order that he stay away from kids. The new suit, however, says that Finn explicitly told Fr. Ratigan he could attend a young girl’s first communion service in March (despite warnings to church officials about Fr. Ratigan’s inappropriate behavior around kids in 2006 and 2010, his hundreds of troubling photos of girls, and his suicide note apologizing to the youngsters and their families).

Second, the suit also includes new information about the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist (2100 Nolan Road in Independence, 816 252 1673) where Fr. Ratigan was sent to live in March 2011 (after having spent roughly a month living with his mother). Finn and his staff have claimed that they moved Ratigan to the church facility to keep him away from kids.

But, in a new disclosure, the lawsuit says clerics at that facility complained to top church staff that Fr. Ratigan didn’t’ have enough to do, spent much of his time on the computer there, and often left the center unsupervised on his motorcycle. The nuns’ and priests’ concerns, the suit says, went unheeded.

The suit also identifies Deacon Mike Lewis (816-453-5510 ext. 815) of St. Patrick’s parish as the individual who, in December of last year, found the alarming photos of kids on Fr. Ratigan’s computer and notified other church officials about them.

Though the suit is long and detailed, information about the plaintiffs is left intentionally vague because the child is still young and her parents want to protect her privacy and theirs.

In May, Fr. Ratigan was arrested and charged with possessing child porn in Clay County. On Tuesday, the US Attorney for Western Missouri filed additional (and more serious) charges of possessing and producing child porn against him. If convicted, it’s possible Fr. Ratigan could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/10/120163/catholic-priest-ratigan-faces.html

This is the second civil lawsuit involving Fr. Ratigan, and the first to be filed in state court. The family is represented by KC attorney Rebecca Randles. Another civil suit was filed in federal court on June 2. That family is represented by Randles (816 931 9901) and St. Paul MN attorneys Jeff Anderson & Patrick Noaker (651 227 9990).

Fr. Ratigan worked at parishes in three Missouri cities: St. Joseph (St. Mary’s parish), Easton (St. Joseph’s parish), and Kansas City (St. Patrick’s parish and St. Thomas More parish). He also worked at three church-run schools: one in St. Joseph (Bishop LeBlond High School) and two in Kansas City (St. Thomas More School and St. Patrick’s School/Early Childhood Center). At least twice, he took Missouri kids on church-sponsored trips to Guatemala.

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/assign/Ratigan_Rev_Shawn_Francis.htm

CONTACT:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP director 314 566 9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688, 314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com, Mike Hunter of Kansas City, SNAP KC director 913 634 6490

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