Judge OKs $1.3M Settlement in Kansas City Priest Lawsuit

A Jackson County judge has approved a $1.35 million settlement in a civil lawsuit involving a Kansas City, Mo., priest who’s serving 50 years in prison for producing child pornography.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Kenneth Garrett III approved the settlement in the lawsuit filed in 2011 by a girl and her parents against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, Bishop Robert Finn and the Rev. Shawn Ratigan. Ratigan was sentenced in September to 50 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to five child pornography counts, one charge for each of five victims.

The judge’s approval of the civil settlement was added to the court record last week, nearly a month after the diocese reached the agreement. The diocese says the settlement was paid by insurance, The Kansas City Star reported.

The diocese also expressed its “great sorrow for the harm and grief visited upon children and their families by the actions of Shawn Ratigan.”

A computer technician working on Ratigan’s laptop in December 2010 found hundreds of troubling images of young girls and reported it to diocese officials. Instead of turning the photos over to police or reporting suspicions about Ratigan, Finn sent him for psychiatric evaluation and later ordered him to stay at a convent and stay away from children.

The photos were given to police in May 2011 after Ratigan violated Finn’s orders.

The civil lawsuit alleged that Ratigan engaged a 9-year-old girl in sexually explicit conduct and that Finn allowed Ratigan continued access to children after learning of the images on Ratigan’s computer.

Jackson County prosecutors charged Finn and the diocese in October 2011 with one misdemeanor charge each of failing to report suspected child abuse, because of the five-month delay between when the photos were found on Ratigan’s computer and when the diocese reported him to police.

Finn was convicted of one count last year sentenced to two years of supervised probation. The charge against the diocese was dropped.