Families Outraged by New Allegations in Priest Abuse Case

Fox News 4, Kansas City/August 10, 2011

Kansas City, Missouri -- A catholic priest from the metro faces multiple life sentences after being charged in federal court. Father Shawn Ratigan faces accusations in a child pornography scandal. Several victims already filed a civil case against Ratigan and say these new charges are deeply upsetting.

The civil lawsuit that has been filed against Ratigan says that the church and the Diocese knew about the child porn on Ratigan's computer but failed to act.

"The charges span over six years with victims two to 12-years-old," said Beth Phillips with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips used a chart to outline all 13 of the federal charges against Father Shawn Ratigan.

Graphic pictures of young victims were taken. Some were even taken on church property.

Rebecca Randles represents some of the victims families in the civil lawsuit against Ratigan and the KC-St. Joseph Diocese. They victim's families had a very strong reaction to the newest charges.

"They felt angry and an incredible amount of grief," Randles said.

That's because she says the criminal investigation confirmed her suspicion that Ratigan continued to have access to kids even after the church found out about the porn allegations and after Ratigan tried to commit suicide in December. One of photographs was taken that following Easter.

"Children were placed in danger and were photographed and that's hard for our clients to take," Randles said.

A spokesperson tells FOX 4 the Diocese is reviewing all its policies, procedures and training and hired former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves to do a thorough investigation into the Ratigan case.

Also the Diocese is using an independent ombudsman to look into any reports of inappropriate behavior by clergy or anyone else associated with the church. Randles hopes the church will learn from this and stop trying to handle complaints of abuse within its walls.

"At the moment that there's any suspicion abuse is happening, it has to be reported to DFS and police," she said. "The diocese can no longer deal with abuse issue it has to go to civil authorities."

The Diocese spokesperson also told FOX 4 that many people there have been interviewed voluntarily for the criminal investigation. The spokesperson says they're taking the situation very seriously and cooperating to the fullest extent.

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