News24

US priest admits to producing child porn

2012-08-03 10:05

Kansas — A Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty on Thursday to producing child pornography in a federal case that also led to charges against the diocese bishop for failing to report suspected child abuse, and prosecutors said they would recommend that he be sentenced to life in prison.

The Reverend Shawn Ratigan, aged 46, had been scheduled for trial later this month. He was charged with child pornography in May 2011 in Clay County after police received a flash drive from the priest's computer that contained hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas.

Prosecutors alleged he photographed girls, sometimes under their skirts, in and around churches where he had worked in the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph.

Under terms of the plea deal, Ratigan pleaded guilty to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to produce child porn. Eight other counts against Ratigan were dismissed.

Acting US Attorney David Ketchmark said the guilty pleas represent one charge for each of five victims whose abuse started in June 2005 — one year after Ratigan was ordained as a priest.

"With today's guilty plea, the defendant publicly acknowledged for the first time that he sexually assaulted five young children over the course of several years," Ketchmark said at a news conference after Ratigan's plea hearing.

Old wounds opened

"When a defendant who wears a religious collar, who has the trust of a community, engages in conduct of this nature, his crimes are more devastating and more reprehensible."

The case opened old wounds for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph, which in 2008 agreed to pay 47 clergy abuse victims a total of $10m and promised to train its priests about sexual abuse awareness and to report any suspicions that children were being placed in danger.

It also led to misdemeanour criminal charges against the diocese and Bishop Robert Finn — the highest-ranking Catholic official in the US to be charged with shielding an abusive priest — for failing to report suspected child abuse to the state.

Both have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go to trial in September.

Unlike the cases in the 2008 settlement that involved claims of abuse from decades ago, Ratigan was an acting priest whose behaviour was reported to diocese officials in May 2010, seven months before hundreds of disturbing images were found on his laptop and a full year before church officials reported him to police.

Instead of reporting Ratigan to the state Division of Family Services, as required under Missouri law, Finn sent the priest out of state for a psychological examination then ordered him to stay at the Sisters of St Francis of the Holy Eucharist, a facility in Independence, where he could say Mass for the sisters.

30 years for each count


Finn also ordered Ratigan to avoid contact with children. Later, after the diocese received reports Ratigan had attended a St Patrick's Day parade and a child's birthday party at the invitation of the child's parents, Finn ordered that police be given copies of the photos recovered from Ratigan's laptop.

After Ratigan was charged with child pornography, Finn apologised for how he had handled the situation and acknowledged that he waited a year before reading a report from a parish principal about Ratigan's behaviour around children.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the diocese expressed its "profound concern" for anyone harmed by Ratigan and said it is committed to making sure "every report of sexual abuse, boundary violation or misconduct is addressed thoroughly and immediately".

Ratigan, who appeared in court in an orange jail jumpsuit, with his hands and feet shackled, softly acknowledged to US District Judge Gary Fenner that he understood that each count carried a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $250 000 fine.

Ketchmark said the priest's plea means his victims won't have to go through a trial. Beyond that, the prosecutor said Ratigan gets very little from the plea deal, especially since the eight related counts that were dropped can be taken into consideration when he is sentenced.

Rebecca Randles, a Kansas City attorney who has represented in civil suits dozens of people who said they were abused by priests, read a statement on behalf of victims' families saying they are relieved they don't have to relieve the abuse during testimony at a criminal trial.

Photo evidence

The first case involved photos Ratigan took of a 6-year-old in June 2005, with her panties pulled aside and focusing on her genital area.

Similar pictures were taken in May 2006 of a 2-year-old; between 1 September and 1 November 2007, of a 5-year-old; and between 1 August 2008, and 1 September 2009, of a girl who was eight and nine years old during that period.

All four of those resulted in guilty pleas for producing child porn. Ratigan also pleaded to attempting to produce child porn in July 2009 when he took close-up photos of the crotch area of a 7-year-old in a bathing suit.

Ratigan also is facing three child pornography charges in Clay County, which were filed in May 2011 after police received a flash drive from the priest's computer that contained hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas.

Prosecutors alleged he photographed girls, sometimes under their skirts, in and around churches where he had worked in the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph.

Comments
  • Spiral - 2012-08-03 10:13

    Bunch of sick freaks!

  • sharon.houghton.984 - 2012-08-03 10:16

    The fact that poeple protect them and what they do is even sicker!

  • ronald.utenhage - 2012-08-03 10:17

    Please dont attack the man's faith or christianity, sadly we have SICKO's in all faiths!.

      JManAtheoi - 2012-08-03 10:41

      Well, its the same religion trying to protect these freaks... they "sent him to a facility" knowing what he did because he wears a black robe and prays to some god on Sundays? Give me a break.

      ronald.utenhage - 2012-08-03 10:49

      Yes Johan,we must be grateful that during the time when Genghis Khan the atheist killed millions, that there was no internet to redicule him.

      JohanCduToit - 2012-08-03 10:56

      Ronald: "...he consulted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan

      Pulverturm - 2012-08-03 10:56

      Hey ronald! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan The Secret History of the Mongols chronicles Genghis praying to the Burhan Haldun mountain. He was religiously tolerant and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. To do so, he consulted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji.[24] Doesn't sound like an Atheist to me!

      ronald.utenhage - 2012-08-03 11:13

      No matter what segment of society you look at, you'll find good people and you'll find bad people. You'll even find, as has been said, that the line between good and evil cuts through every human heart. The real reason they do their evil deeds is that they're human. Humans are very smart, very capable and very capable of evil. Focus on that instead of trying to find blame in Faith. Faith of any measure did you No Wrong, Man does Wrong!

      Spiral - 2012-08-03 11:21

      Catholicism & Christianity aren't the same thing. @JohanCduToit – it’s not fair to judge all religions by the actions of a few (especially when the 'few' seem to be coming from the same group i.e. Catholics)

      JManAtheoi - 2012-08-03 11:23

      "Faith of any measure did you No Wrong, Man does Wrong!" - exactly. As man invented faith.and god.

      JohanCduToit - 2012-08-03 11:24

      No, Ronald, the problem is religion teaching things like "all you have to do is ask for forgiveness and everything will be OK". This is BS. Everything will NOT be OK. Real people get hurt, badly, is was the case for these children. People need to learn to THINK for themselves, and figure out what morality really is. I am so sick of religious cowards with their "but the Devil made me do it" lame excuses.

      JManAtheoi - 2012-08-03 11:44

      @ Spiral: "...It’s not fair to judge all religions by the actions of a few, especially when the 'few' seem to be coming from the same group i.e. Catholics.." hypocritical statement of the day.

      ronald.utenhage - 2012-08-03 11:46

      @JManAtheoi…and JohanCDuToit, …At some point a person of faith saw to your mom during her pregnancy, person of faith taught you, wiped your arrse, performed an operation on you or a loved-one, gave way for you at traffic signal, did NOT steal your belongings and lovingly embraced your child at crèche after she fell, and I am sure you did NOT in any manner or form associate their actions with their faith , these people of faith, not care that you DON’T have faith because their faith teaches them to respect, to be tolerant and be compassionate. Go on living your life, all I pointed out was a man, who happens to be priest did a horrific act, condemn that MAN, then I am fully behind you. People do horrific things PUNT!!...btw I am not even Christian, but I will stand up for them as I will do for you, to believe in what you want or like. “There is no compulsion in religion “ we believe because it is in our hearts, don’t assume you have the right to tell me or any person of faith what I shall NOT believe in.

      JManAtheoi - 2012-08-03 11:57

      @ ronald - " some point a person of faith saw to your mom..{...}" so? That was their job... They get paid to do it...even if in the name of (some) god. They did it because they where human. Not christian. "their faith teaches them to respect, to be tolerant" - are you kidding me? tolerant???? Tolerance is the biggest taboo in Christianity... or do they (ESPECIALLY Christians) accept/even tolerate a) other religions/beliefs, b) gay marriage etc - should I go on? "all I pointed out was a man, who happens to be priest did a horrific act, condemn that MAN, then I am fully behind you." - good point, fair enough. "don’t assume you have the right to tell me or any person of faith what I shall NOT believe in" - I don't. Christians do. Every day I need to listen to "repent or burn in some hell".."Accept Jesus as your savior (umm...jesus is dead because he couldn't even save himself.) - thats my whole problem with these in-your-face-I-am-right-you-are- wrong religious nuts. Again: Tolerant? yeah right.

      mzeelie - 2012-08-03 15:00

      Dude he is not a christian, he is a catholic priest, it not the same thing totally different faith. Go do some reading on it.

      JManAtheoi - 2012-08-03 15:03

      @ Mzeelie - He's a "man of faith", is he not? same difference. P.S. I've read enough on this BS to know that its BS.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-03 18:13

      Genghis Khan didn't kill anyone in the name of Atheism.

  • kevin.pitzer - 2012-08-03 10:27

    Foreign governments should pay the R.S.A governmnt to house these people in our jails as this will be hell on earth for these men of the cloth.

      mike.bundy.73 - 2012-08-03 10:58

      I don't think that US jail inmates are very kind to child abusers either...

      inxsive - 2012-08-03 11:00

      they'll get a presidential pardon the same day they are sent to jail in the SA(if certain criteria are met ofcourse)

  • sarah.bouttell - 2012-08-03 10:41

    How about, until such time as the Catholic Church can weed out this filth, they are banned. Sorry, that my opinion is fairly drastic, but they don't really seem to be working very hard on the problem. They simply say that it is one rougue element, and behind the scenes are shifting other guilty parties to different areas (proven and caught red handed), where the crimes begin anew, with a fresh batch of victims.

      JohanCduToit - 2012-08-03 10:52

      I wonder how many people realise just how much harm this does to a child. I recently found out about someone who was raped as a child, and even though this was more than 20 years ago, she is still not over it and still cannot live a normal life. So I agree, these crimes should be dealt with much, much harsher.

      bob.macphearson - 2012-08-03 10:54

      I agree with this, except, instead of JUST the catholic church, ban ALL religions!

      JohanCduToit - 2012-08-03 11:05

      Bob, as much as I dislike religion, I don't think it can be banned. Nor would I want it banned. I think it is important that all people be allowed to believe thatever they want, even if what they believe is rubbish.

      Spiral - 2012-08-03 11:24

      it’s absolutely disgusting! In my eyes the lowest form of scum pick on innocent children. The Catholic’s have to do something about this scourge instead of trying to "educate" priests... sweeping this under the rug only makes it worse.

      Spiral - 2012-08-03 11:24

      @bob.macphearson - dont blame all religions for the actions of Catholic priests. We arent all Catholic

      wesley.bischoff - 2012-08-03 11:47

      It's better if religion destroys itself, which is already happening.

      bob.macphearson - 2012-08-03 11:53

      @Spiral, Yeah I know, but between the perverted catholic priests, the psychotic murderous islamic fundamentalists and the fundamental christians adamant on denying rights to certain minorities because its against the teachings of their bible, its quite clear that the elephant in the room here is religion, and it needs to go.

  • ethanhawk385 - 2012-08-03 11:07

    Hang them by the nuts untill dead

      wesley.bischoff - 2012-08-03 11:47

      Excellent!!

  • wesley.bischoff - 2012-08-03 11:42

    What sick bastards!!!!

  • zaatheist - 2012-08-03 11:53

    So believing in the invisible magic man in the sky and the Bible makes you more moral that non-believers, does it? PAH!

  • Charmaine Hasell - 2012-08-04 17:25

    Rev 17:17 - the Bible predicts that people and governments will turn on religion. God is behind this. He is tired of atrocities committed in His name. Only the truth will remain.

  • gus.fernandes.7 - 2012-12-09 17:02

    He is a sicko who happens to be a priest. All paedophiles should be rounded up, shown no mercy and be stranded on some deserted island to fend for themselves. They destroy childrens lives forever.

  • pages:
  • 1