Wednesday, April 9, 2014

As a Kansas City detective is honored in the Shawn Ratigan case, diocese is castigated

The Kansas City Star
April 9, 2014

A Kansas City police detective was honored Wednesday for her work to protect children, most notably in the case of a Kansas City priest now serving a prison sentence for child pornography.

Detective Maggie McGuire received the Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award, which recognizes the outstanding work of an individual or organization in protecting children from exploitation.

In presenting the award, an assistant federal prosecutor made a series of blistering remarks about Bishop Robert Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese’s handling of the case.

“When it becomes clear at the outset of the investigation that the entire hierarchy of a centuries-old religious denomination does not seem willing to recognize that the children depicted in the images are, in fact, victims of child exploitation, nor seem very willing to help establish the identity of the children depicted, and instead are spending millions of dollars on legal counsel in an ill-advised effort to avoid having the priest and bishop accept legal responsibility for their crimes, then you know, as an investigator, that your work is cut out for you,” said Deputy U.S. Attorney Gene Porter.

The diocese declined to comment on Porter’s remarks.
Since the case came to light, the diocese has taken several steps to strengthen its efforts to protect children, including the appointment of a former assistant Jackson County prosecutor to investigate all reports of sexual misconduct or suspicious behavior by clergy and others in the diocese.

The case erupted in December 2010 when a computer technician found hundreds of lewd photos of young girls on the Rev. Shawn Ratigan’s laptop computer. A Jackson County judge later found Finn guilty of failing to report suspicions of child abuse to police or state child welfare authorities after the photographs were discovered.

Finn was sentenced to two years of probation for the misdemeanor. Ratigan pleaded guilty to five child pornography charges and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

No one, Porter said, could have done a better job on the case than McGuire.

“But for her work, multiple victims might not have been identified, a predatory priest might not have been removed and sentenced to the functional equivalent of life in prison, and Robert Finn never would have become the first cleric of his rank in the United States to sustain … a criminal conviction for failure to report suspected child abuse,” Porter said.

The award was presented outside the Jackson County Courthouse at a rally as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

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