Graves: Diocese's failures had 'real and direct consequences' - KCTV5

Graves: Diocese's failures had 'real and direct consequences' for families

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Former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said the Kansas City area Diocese and its bishop's trust in a priest accused of child pornography had "real and direct consequences" for families.

Graves detailed failures by the diocese in dealing with allegations that Father Shawn Ratigan was acting inappropriately around young girls.

"The failure to take stronger action with Father Ratigan had real and direct consequences for Diocesan families," Graves wrote. However, he said he did not believe the bishop or its leaders purposefully tried to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph tapped Graves and his firm to undertake an indepth review of diocesean policies and procedures in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct by priests.

The most serious allegations involve Ratigan who has been indicted by both federal and state grand juries. Ratigan, who denies the allegation, is accused of possessing child pornography.

A Catholic school principal had written a report detailing concerns about Ratigan's behaviors around children more than a year before his initial indictment.

In a statement, Bishop Robert Finn said the investigation affirmed his decision this summer to create an ombudsman to handle allegations involving the sexual abuse of minors.

"Graves' recommendations are comprehensive, thoughtful and detailed," Finn said. "We understand their importance and are focusing on them so we establish clear, strong and unequivocal procedures for all diocesan personnel and volunteers that ensure the safety of our children today and into the future."

Graves' report found the diocese failed to follow its own policies. The report said church leaders should have done more when a pictures of a young girl was found in December on Ratigan's computer. Police weren't notified until May and this came after Ratigan attempted suicide in December.

The diocese allowed Ratigan to have contact after the computer was found and he attempted suicide, the report says.

One church official wrote in April about Ratigan's contact with children "are a flag of the reddest color."

After Ratigan was indicted in Clay County in May, Finn met with concerned and angry families. Graves said two anonymous comments in particular stood out.

"The images of my daughter's private areas that the FBI showed me, they are forever burned into my brain," one parent wrote. "Shawn Ratigan was in my house, around my children in February, and I thought my children were completely SAFE!!"

Another parent said Finn and the church had hurt children.

"You let one of your priests hurt my children and you saw the pictures and decided to cover it up. That monster was in my house in February 2011 to prey on my children and I let him in since you felt you were above the law and made that decision not to turn in photos of my kids," the parent wrote.

The report concludes that the diocese's "handling of reports regarding Father Ratigan was flawed from the onset."

Altogether, the report covers 141 pages.

In a statement, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said Graves' report wasn't probing enough.

"Finn's lawyers seem determined to do exactly what Finn's doing - trying desperately to act like there were just a few dumb mistakes, when in fact, for months or years, several smart church officials deliberately chose secrecy over safety dozens of times," the group said in a statement.

The group closed its statement by saying, "Only vigorous action by police and prosecutors will make kids safer in the Kansas City diocese."

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