Father Shawn Ratigan sentenced to 50 years in federal prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One year after Roman Catholic Priest Shawn Ratigan pleaded guilty to producing child porn, a federal judge handed down his sentence — 50 years in federal prison, no chance for parole.

The argument before the judge Thursday was how much time Ratigan’s crimes deserved. The defense argued that 15 years was reasonable, saying Ratigan is not the worst of child predators, and that he deserves a chance at freedom to redeem himself.

The prosecution pushed for 50 years, saying the defense’s own expert said hands-on offenders are at a much higher risk to re-offend. In the federal courtroom, Ratigan sat stoically, shackled at his hands and feet, wearing a prison issued jumpsuit.

It was an image in stark contrast from what prosecutors said was known to his victims. To them, Ratigan was a friend and trusted priest in clerical clothes.

“The victim’s parents spoke and it was heart wrenching to hear what they had to say and I think the judge’s sentence clearly reflected the anguish of those victims,” said Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, whose office oversaw the case.

An attempt at revealing Ratigan’s true identity was presented by both sides. The prosecution painted the 47-year-old as arrogant, bold and a liar, with an incurable obsession with young girls. An offender that prosecutors said deserved 50 years in prison.

“It ensures that he will never prey on another child victim again,” Dickinson said after the sentencing.

The defense told the judge 50 years is a death sentence and said Ratigan served the community well before his “breakdown” as they called it.

The attorney for three of Ratigan’s five victims, Rebecca Randals, didn’t see it that way.

“The Bible tells us there are sins of thought and there are sins of act and he chose to act. And so when they say he has personality disorders, he’s been depressed, there are millions of people that have personality disorders and are depressed and do not act by victimizing children,” said Randals.

Ratigan’s attorneys said they believe Ratigan is cured.

Ratigan himself spoke briefly; he said words cannot express his sorrow to his victims and their families.  He also told the judge “prison is hell and I know I deserve 15 years, but 50 years, I don’t think so,” Ratigan said as he stood before the judge.

Ratigan also said, “I know God has forgiven me and I know my soul is in good shape.”

The judge said Ratigan abused his authority, betrayed his church, himself and the victims and said 50 years is reasonable for the crime. Ratigan will be 97 years old when his sentence runs out.

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