Nov 13 2011

Penn State and the Catholic Church

Examining the religious right wing activism defending catholic clergy sex abusers and the response of the church, it’s pretty easy to understand why Joe Paterno didn’t do anything to protect the children being raped by Jerry Sandusky.

He’s Joe Paterno and probably feels entitled to do whatever he wants, just like Bill Donohue, Bishop Finn of Kansas City, the catholic pope, and the entire catholic church hierarchy.
Bill Donohue, Executive Director of Catholic League Center for Religious and Civil Rights,

wrote a post on November 11, 2011 attacking a Kansas City Newspaper for spreading lies about Rev. Shawn Ratigan, a catholic priest in Kansas City indicted for possession of child pornography.

The indictment of Rev. Shawn Ratigan referenced in the Kansas City newspaper, states:

“U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips said Tuesday that a federal grand jury indicted Rev. Shawn Ratigan on 13 counts, including six counts of producing child pornography. According to the indictment, Ratigan sexually exploited five victims, ranging from age 2 to 12, over a six year period of time.”

Ratigan’s case, and Donohue’s defense of him shows how the catholic church routinely hides behind others to hide their abject and almost total disregard for the safety and protection of children from catholic clergy sex predators.

The evidence supporting the Ratigan indictment are substantial. Here is a summary:

  • In May of 2010, a letter from St. Patrick’s grade school filed a formal letter of complaint about inappropriate behavior by Ratigan, lack of boundaries, and an incident observed by parents and teachers where he directed a fourth grade girl to sit on his lap and lean her back against him for at least 5 minutes until parents went up to him and alerted him he was being watched.
  • This letter further expressed the very serious concern that Ratigan had upset many teachers and parents by his behavior who believed he had many of the characteristics of a pedophile.
  • Read the entire letter here.
  • On December 16, 2010, Ratigan took his personal laptop to a computer technician for repair.
  • The computer technician found several graphic images of girls under the age of 12 with the focus of the picture on their vaginas.
  • The technician reported the images to the Kansas City diocese where Ratigan was assigned.
  • On December 17, 2010, Ratigan attempted suicide and was hospitalized
  • The Kansas City diocese made a copy of the graphic images on Ratigan’s laptop, then gave the laptop to Ratigan’s family.
  • Ratigan’s family destroyed the computer.

Then, five months later, law enforcement authorities were notified about Ratigan’s possession of child pornography.

  • May 13, 2011, the disk containing the graphic images of children was given to the police.
  • May 19, 2011, Ratigan was arrested for possession of child pornography.

The police probable cause form states that Ratigan possessed a CD with 14 different images of child pornography of a 3-4 year old female identified as “SN.”

Police investigated Ratigan’s church desktop and found many of the same and additional graphic images of children. Many of the minor females were identified and were being interviewed.

October 14, 2011, the Kansas City Star reported that Bishop Finn and the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were being indicted on the misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse.

Please read the Star’s reporting of this charge:

“(Bishop) Finn and the diocese had reasonable cause to believe that Ratigan may have abused a child but did not report it to authorities between Dec. 16, 2010, and May 11, 2011, the indictment alleged. Evidence of that concern, the indictment said, was previous suspicions about Ratigan’s behavior around children and the discovery in December 2010 of hundreds of photos of children on Ratigan’s laptop.

Those photos included images of a child’s naked vagina and upskirt pictures focusing on the child’s crotch.

Finn and the diocese also must have had concerns about Ratigan’s conduct because they had restricted him from being around children after the laptop images were discovered, according to the charges.

A diocesan official reported Ratigan to police on May 11.”

The prosecutor’s in this case indicted Bishop FInn and the catholoc diocese after several months of reviewing the evidence, including the school principal’s formal complaint from May 2010 and Ratigan’s explicit images of children.

While this seems like a lot of evidence, Bill Donohue has been leading the defense of Ratigan, Finn, and the catholic diocese with this false and distorted post which I include in it’s entirety:

“The Star continued with its lies against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph with a column by Barbara Shelly. Regarding the behavior of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, she writes of “hundreds of explicit images of children” found on the priest’s laptop last year. What she didn’t say is that none of the photos were pornographic. And while a police officer and an attorney were called immediately (the pictures were disturbing), no formal complaint with the authorities was made. That’s because no one calls the police about something that is not criminal. The Kansas City Star disturbs me. Should I call 911?

Shelly then says, “Not until five months later, when more disturbing images turned up, did officials alert the police.” Wrong again: no new photos triggered anything. What happened is that the cops were called even though there was no complainant and no crime had been committed; they were called because Ratigan violated an internal diocesan stricture limiting his movement. Had the Diocese acted like other institutions, no one would even know about this issue (it would have been handled internally the way the Star handles matters that are unethical, but not criminal).

Shelly is also wrong to say that this case involves child abuse: no, it involves the possibility that someone may have been abused. If Shelly were right, she would be able to identify the victim. She can’t.

Shelly is also wrong to make reference to Ratigan as a pedophile. In fact, he was officially diagnosed as suffering from depression, and was explicitly deemed not to be a pedophile. Moreover, most of the acts committed by miscreant priests were homosexual in nature, so once again Shelly fails to tell the truth. The lies just keep on coming, and we will correct every one of them.

Bill Donohue doesn’t just try to “spin” the story in a more positive light. He changes the facts to fit his argument that the Ratigan, Finn, the diocese, and catholics in general are getting a bad deal.

I have highlighted claims he makes above which are completely false. When Donohue calls the Star and Shelly liars, he is using a common defense of bully narcissists…projection.

Blame others for what you are doing yourself.

Donohue is using the strategy of most narcissists who want everyone to see the world their way. It’s in Donohue’s interest for good catholics to be swayed by his puffed-up blubbery.

Donohue has a doctorate in Sociology and is a respected scholar. His changing the facts here is not a mistake. It’s a deliberate attempt to defend men and a church who should not be defended.

As the Penn State case details continue to emerge, we will find the same mistakes were made as those in the Ratigan case.

The other similarity is those in higher up positions are being held accountable for their failure to report child abuse…finally.

The world will never see the end to the sexual abuse of children. We can only hope for more responsible adults to take action immediately to intervene and protect children who may be at risk or already being abused as in the Penn State and Kansas City cases so sadly illustrate.

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