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Examiner
  • Lawyer: Deal reached in lawsuit against priest

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  • By The Associated Press
    A girl and her parents have reached a tentative deal with the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in a sex abuse lawsuit they filed against a priest who was sentenced last month to 50 years in prison for producing child pornography.
    Rebecca Randles, who represents the family, declined Wednesday to discuss terms of the settlement, which still must be approved by a judge.
    The lawsuit filed in Jackson County named the diocese, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan and Bishop Robert Finn as defendants, The Kansas City Star reported. It was scheduled to go to trial on Monday, but a hearing on the settlement is scheduled for Oct. 25 instead.
    Jack Smith, a spokesman for the diocese, said he would have no statement on the deal until it is confirmed by the court.
    Last month Ratigan - who was living in Independence at the time of his arrest - was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to five child pornography counts, representing one charge for each of five victims.
    His case came light in December 2010 after a computer technician found hundreds of photos of young girls on Ratigan's laptop computer. Earlier that year a parish principal had sent a lengthy memo to Finn and other diocese leadership outline troubling actions by Ratigan around children, but little action was taken against him before the photos were found.
    A day after being confronted about the images, Ratigan missed Mass and was found in his garage, with his motorcycle running and a suicide note nearby.
    Instead of reporting him to authorities, Finn sent Ratigan out of state for a psychological evaluation, then had him stay at an Independence convent where he could say Mass for the sisters and stay away from children.
    The diocese reported him to police in May 2011 after he violated terms the bishop had set for him. A federal grand jury indicted him on 13 child porn counts involving five girls ranging in age from 2 to 9.
    The case led to misdemeanor charges against Finn and the diocese, claiming the diocese was required under law to report suspected child abuse to state investigators, but had not.
    Finn was found guilty last year of failing to report, making him the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic cleric convicted in the church's decades-long child sexual abuse scandal.
    The suit settled this week was filed in August 2011 and alleged Ratigan engaged a 9-year-old girl in sexually explicit conduct. She was one of the five victims involved in his criminal case.
    The Associated Press typically does not name victims of sexual assault.
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