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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
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42 Abuse Victims Say Diocese Broke Its Word

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) - The Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese failed to live up to a 2008 settlement with victims of priests' sex abuse, by refusing to report sex abuse immediately, and threatening to retaliate against people who did, 42 of the victims claim in Jackson County Court.

In its $10 million settlement with 47 victims, the diocese agreed to abide by 19 reforms, including that it report any suspicions that children were being placed in danger.

But the plaintiffs say diocese officials knew for 6 months that the Rev. Shawn Ratigan had photos of naked girls on his computer, but failed to notify authorities.

Ratigan has pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges.

The plaintiffs also say the diocese failed to properly and completely implement the required training, and threatened to retaliate against people who reported abuse.

"In August, 2011, defendants released to the public an internal report, colloquially called 'The Graves Report,' which concludes, among other things, that 'Diocesan leaders failed to follow their own policies and procedures for responding to reports relating to Frs. Ratigan and Tierney,' and admission by defendants related directly to contentions made by plaintiffs," according to the complaint.

Plaintiffs' attorney Rebecca Randles told The Associated Press that the case is one of the first of its kind seeking to force church officials to comply with nonmonetary terms of a priest sex abuse settlement.

The plaintiffs seek to compel arbitration with the diocese to determine what sort of oversight and enforcement are required. The only monetary damages demanded are attorneys fees.

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