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Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese violated 2008 settlement agreement while dealing with Fr. Ratigan porn case

10/6/2011 11:34:00 AM

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News Release
October 6, 2011

Clergy Abuse Victims:  Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese violated 2008
settlement agreement while dealing with Fr. Ratigan porn case

Breach of Contract lawsuit filed today

Complaint details numerous violations - Asks court to compel arbitration

(Kansas City, MO) Thirty-eight victims of clergy abuse in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph filed a lawsuit today saying specific actions required by their 2008 court approved settlement agreement with the diocese was breached at least 18 times as church officials responded to reports of Father Shawn Ratigan’s involvement in child pornography.

The Plaintiffs, 14 of whom are identified by name and another 24 identified as John and Jane Does, were part of a settlement with the diocese in 2008 that included a total of 47 victims.  The agreement, which included both monetary and non-monetary relief, was approved by the court on August 21, 2008.  The non-monetary provisions, contained in a Memorandum of Understanding, included a series of actions to be taken when confronted with allegations of clergy abuse in the future--many of which this current lawsuit claims were violated while the diocese dealt with the allegation against Father Ratigan.

Prominent clergy abuse attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented the 47 victims in the 2008 settlement and is one of the attorneys in the current case, expressed frustration with the diocese’s lack of adherence to the court approved provisions:  “Like a broken record, in case after case, church officials promise that they will change their behavior and take strong measures when dealing with allegations of clergy abuse. But in reality, what we see is blatant disregard of promises to survivors and a continued culture of protection of themselves rather than protection of children. ” Anderson said.

Among the numerous provisions of the settlement agreement claimed to have been violated by the diocese in their response to the Ratigan case are:

• Expressed operational confusion about “whether trafficking in pornographic images” required any action of the Diocese despite having committed in the settlement agreement to training and operations which include guidelines for child safety and security through technology.

• Failed to report Rattigan’s misconduct until almost a year after first getting reports, despite having committed in the settlement agreement to mandatory reporting.

• Made no use of its Abuse Response Team, despite its 2008 commitments to implementing mandatory reporting and victim advocacy programs.

• Failed to document in writing its activities of reporting and investigating abuse reports, despite having policies which require it, and despite having agreed in 2008 to standards which incorporate best practices for protecting children.

Anderson said that the intent of the lawsuit is to have the court compel the diocese to arbitrate the allegations of failure to comply with the settlement agreement, and among other things, consider changes to the reporting provisions for purposes of enforcing the 2008 agreement.

“You get the feeling that the Church officials think that they can enter into agreements and no one will notice when they ignore them.  But thank goodness for these diligent and brave survivors who refuse to let them get away with it,” Anderson added.

Note:  A copy of the official complaint is available at http://www.andersonadvocates.com
Contact:  Jeff Anderson   Office - 651.227.9990    Mobile - 612.817.8665
Contact:   Rebecca Randles  [Randles, Mata & Brown]   Office - 816-931-9901