Though settlements from child abuse trials have cost the Catholic Church around $3 billion as of 2012, and though Robert Finn specifically agreed to report suspected child abuses cases to the police in a $10 million settlement for 27 plaintiffs in 2008, the lesson doesn’t seem to be sticking — Finn covered up another priest since then, who was finally turned into authorities and this Thursday plea guilty to five counts of production of child pornography.
The priest is Rev. Shawn Ratigan, 46, of Kansas City, who was found out when a tech was repairing his laptop and discovered hundreds of “troubling images.” He reported them to the diocese, and when Ratigan didn’t show up for his 8:30 a.m. Mass, it was soon discovered he had attempted to commit suicide using his motorcycle in his garage.
Bishop Robert Finn did not report the case, as is required by law, but sent the priest out of state for psychological evaluation, finally landing the priest to serve at the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist where there would have no contact with children, and he was instructed not to come into contact with any children.
It seems that the priest nevertheless did come into such contact, violating the mandate brought against him. Though this charge related to this incident was finally dropped when his charges were reduced from 13 to 5, it seems to have been of key importance in sealing Ratigan’s fate. Finn and the Diocese finally reported the crimes in 2011.
Ratigan plead guilty to the charges brought against him, the five counts for each child he abused, each carrying a maximum of 30 years in prison. The five girls he used to produce pornography were between the ages 2 to 9 and the photos were of the children’s exposed genitals.
The children remained anonymous and did not have to testify.
The priest’s role of wearing black robes and listening to private confessions in secret had been reversed as he wore orange prison jail pants and shirt and publicly confessed his guilt. To each charge, when asked if he was “in fact” guilty, he responded, “Yes, your honor,” focusing on the judge and never looking at the audience and families.
Finn and the diocese, meanwhile, will go to court Sept. 24 for failing to follow Missouri law that mandates clergy report suspected child abuse. Finn has become the highest ranking priest to be charged with sheltering a child abuser, and this in light of his promise in the $10 million settlement in 2008 to report all suspicions of misconduct to the police.