Catholic priest pleads guilty to producing child porn
India Blooms News Service
Kansas City, Missouri, Aug 4 (IBNS) A Roman Catholic priest in Missouri pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to producing child pornography, announced David M. Ketchmark, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
“Today’s guilty plea required the defendant to publicly admit that he victimized five young children over the course of several years,” Acting U.S. Attorney Ketchmark said.
“Each of Ratigan’s victims is represented in this guilty plea so that each child will receive the justice she deserves. When a sexual predator wears a collar, his crimes impact the entire community. This predator priest will now face tough mandatory penalties for his crimes.”
Shawn Ratigan, 46, of Independence, Missouri, a diocesan priest and former pastor or assistant pastor in several area parishes, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to charges contained in an August 9, 2011 federal indictment.
Ratigan was the parish pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kansas City and more recently served as chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Eucharist in Independence. He remains in federal custody; a sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
By pleading guilty today, Ratigan admitted that he exploited five child victims to produce sexually explicit pictures of them. The victims ranged in age from two years old to 12 years old at the time of the offenses. The exploitation occurred at several locations—including a church choir loft—over a six-year period of time.
Ratigan pleaded guilty to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to produce child pornography. Each of those counts involved the sexual exploitation of a separate child victim.
Under federal statutes, each count of producing (or attempting to produce) child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in federal prison without parole, with a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole for each count.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Fincham. It was investigated by the Kansas City Police Department and the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.