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Two More Settlements Announced In Kansas City Diocese Sexual Abuse Scandal

Laura Ziegler

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests announced Saturday two more settlements against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph related to a former priest who took lewd photos of young parishioners. 

Two civil suits were settled between the diocese and three litigants Friday. Two girls and their mother were awarded $200,000 and payment for counseling services related to sexual abuse by former priest Shawn Ratigan.

The diocese has spent millions in settlement funds related to dozens of cases of sexual abuse over the last seven years, including a $10 million payout in 2008.

Robert Bates is a SNAP member, and a victim of abuse. He says the settlement should help the victims heal, but the money can only go so far.

"You can't erase the hurt you cause to someone's soul," Bates said. "It goes deeper than your flesh, emotions, your intellect and your mentality. It's a long process of healing."

Ratigan had served in many parishes throughout western Missouri, and was convicted on charges of child pornography in September 2013. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Former Bishop Robert Finn was given two years probation for failing to adequately report the abuse, and subsequently resigned from his post.

SNAP also highlighted a third case currently on appeal in the Western District Court of Appeals. The appellants in that case allege Ratigan took inappropriate pictures of their daughter, named Jane Doe 413 in legal documents.

But lawyers representing the diocese say the family doesn't have proof Ratigan took such photos.

"Even if Ratigan took photographs of Doe 413, there is no evidence that those photographs were obscene," the defense brief reads. "Ratigan destroyed his phone's SD card while in police custody after his arrest ... [but] there is no evidence that supports plantiffs' contention that there were photos of Doe 413 on that card."

David Clohessy of SNAP says the case shows that the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph hasn't changed since new bishop James Johnston was appointed in September.

"It's very unseemly and very disturbing to see church officials splitting hairs and shifting blame in court when you've got a clearly guilty predator [in question]," Clohessy said. "It's time for some real change, and change that focuses on prevention."

The next hearing for the case is set for Oct. 27. The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph did not immediately return requests for comment.

Cody Newill is a general assignment reporter for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @CodyNewillor you can send him an email at cody@kcur.org.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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