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Missouri priest accused of taking sexually explicit photos of kids

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The priest is indicted this week on 13 counts to child pornography allegations
  • He is accused of taking sexually explicit pictures of five girls ranging in age from 2 to 12
  • Some of the alleged crimes occurred on church property including in a church choir loft
  • Church leaders have been accused of being slow to alert the police about the issue
RELATED TOPICS
  • Missouri

Read more about this story from CNN affiliate KCTV.

(CNN) -- Federal prosecutors have indicted a Missouri priest accused of taking pictures of the private parts of children as young as 2.

Shawn Ratigan, a 45-year-old Roman Catholic priest from Independence, was indicted this week on 13 counts related to child pornography, said Beth Phillips, the United States Attorney for the western district of Missouri.

"When a person who has been placed in a position of trust exploits and victimizes children, he victimizes the entire community," Phillips said. "Today's indictment sends a strong message that we will not tolerate this criminal behavior."

Ratigan is accused of taking sexually explicit pictures of five girls ranging in age from two to 12 years old, authorities said.

Some of the alleged crimes occurred on church properties, including in a church choir loft.

Ratigan is accused of taking explicit pictures of a 12-year-old girl on Easter Sunday at Vincentian Mission House, a home for church leaders, Phillips said.

He is also accused of snapping pictures under the skirt of a 5-year-old girl who was standing on the steps of church, authorities said.

The indictment has brought heavy criticism for leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, CNN affiliate KCTV reported.

Church officials were alerted about Ratigan's alleged behavior five months before they gave evidence to police, the affiliate reported.

In December, Ratigan took his laptop to a computer technician for repairs. The technician found pornographic images of young girls and turned the computer over to church officials, the affiliate reported.

Copies of the images were made and then the laptop was returned to Ratigan's family, who destroyed it, the affiliate reported.

Church officials did not give the images to the police until May and Ratigan continued to work for the diocese.

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