Monday, September 16, 2013

50 Years for Ratigan

Fr. Shawn Ratigan
Fr. Shawn Ratigan has been sentenced to 50 years in Federal prison without the possibility of parole for molesting and taking explicit photographs of girls as young as age 2.

You can read about it here - but the Kansas City Star goes into some detail about the nature of the crimes, and it's not easy to stomach.

At the time the story broke, when it was revealed that Ratigan's bishop, Robert Finn, mishandled the case and showed a flagrant disregard for the victims and their families, Bill Donohue of the Catholic Defense League downplayed Ratigan's crimes and asserted that no child pornography was involved.  The priest was just a shutter bug who liked to take photos of young girls and their crotches, or so Donohue implied.

In the perfect world, Bill Donohue would read the Star's description of the photos Ratigan took and the physical contact he had with his helpless victims and would issue a heart-felt apology for the shameful way he spun the story with lies and half-truths, not to "defend" the Catholic Church, but merely as a knee-jerk way of running interference for Bishop Finn and his criminal priest.  In fact, Donohue didn't have to wait for the sentencing - much of what Ratigan did was described in detail in a report paid for by the diocese of Kansas City, a report Donohue ignored in order to spin his web of unrighteous indignation.

This dreadful habit of circling the wagons and of exercising what right-wing Catholics have shown to be their "anti-charism of discernment" when one of their own is criticized is one of the worst things about this whole horrible affair.  I even had people from Kansas City threatening me with physical violence because of my criticism of Bishop Finn.

Meanwhile, Fr. Ratigan was enabled and his crimes were covered up, and many innocent children suffered and will be suffering for years to come.

Men like Bishop Finn and Bill Donohue need to man up and look the families of these victims in the face and apologize.  Instead, Donohue will act as if nothing has happened and Finn will continue to assure us that all is well and the Church has the best interests of the victims at heart.  Which is clearly the biggest untruth in this whole dreadful case.


23 comments:

Philothea said...

I have you and Mark Shea (mostly) to thank for helping me escape my knee-jerk fundamentalist reaction when dealing with the ugliness found in my beloved Catholic Church. I am a convert to the Catholic faith (2008) and it has taken awhile to pry the rose colored glasses from my eyes! A good Catholic friend of mine warned me when I entered the Church that I would not only discover a big, beautiful oasis of consolation but also a vast mission field. I am a sinner.

Anonymous said...

Bill Donohue must be doing something right, or at least the Catholic League which he heads, must think well of him - since he gets paid about $400,000 a year. Keep those donations coming in.

BenYachov said...

>Bill Donohue of the Catholic Defense League downplayed Ratigan's crimes and asserted that no child pornography was involved.

That does not seem to be exactly true. I read the CATHOLIC LEAGUE's defense of Bishop Finn. Which was exclusively a defense of Finn BTW & not any type of defense or excusing of Ratigan.

Anybody who reads plain English can see B Donohue is against the misreporting which he claims has been done by the usual suspects & he is merely against not treating Bishop Finn in a fair manner. If I take him at his word.

Like for example claims Finn was found guilty of a Felony & not a mistermeaner etc...

http://www.catholicleague.org/attack-on-bishop-finn-protest-of-kc-star-snap-tie-2/


Nor have I read Donohue ever asserting that no child pornography was involved. He said initially in the beginning one nude photo was found that wasn't pornographic according to some people who saw and a bunch of other photos of children's private areas in their underware which Donohue called "disturbing".


Also here is a direct quote:

http://www.catholicleague.org/bishop-finn-and-the-catholic-left-2/

"Clearly anyone who takes such pictures is disturbed. But it also needs to be said that crotch shots are not pornographic. Moreover, the diocese described the “single photo” of a naked girl to a police officer who served on the diocesan sexual review board, and he said it did not constitute pornography. So why would the Times say that “hundreds of pornographic pictures” were found in December 2010? The record shows that it was not until after the diocese called the cops in May 2011 that child porn was found on Ratigan’s computer.END QUOTE

He just said "child porn" didn't he yet you claim here "no child pornography was involved"?

This does not look good.

BenYachov said...

Now as I revisit this story which I have followed on the Catholic League's website for years I note there is a lot of kneejerk politics involved(on both sides) and not enough raw empiricism.

You have wild Bill on one side charging the NYTimes & the KS city Star with misreporting & with having an agenda with SNAP against Bishop Finn.

(I can't speak for the Star. But with the TIMES that is not much of a Stretch. They have been caught manufacturing stories before. Also there seems to be a cottage industry springing up to make money suing the Church for past sex abuse but exempting Public Schools)

OTOH you seem to believe the NYTimes reporting and that of the Star. Which to be fair might be correct in this case & not wrong like bill claims. . Also Bill's railing against "Left Wing Catholics with an agenda" meme makes this needlessly partisan.

Also there is a lot of hair splitting. I do believe it is true a mere photo of a nude child might not be pornography. In college my Anthropology Textbook has a photo of a missionary doctor in South America examining a poor female child who was frontally naked. The photo was clearly matter of fact and not taken to sexualize the child but show the work of the doctor. OTOH someone presupposed toward pedophilia might get arroused by it by virtue of the fact the girl had no closes on.

Thus someone finding the initial photo of a young girl might have grounds for saying it wasn't pornographic.

But then again Bill did call the initially discovered photos disturbing and a fetish on Ratitan's part. He also reported child porn was later fount on his computer. Also I see no sympathy from Bill for Ratitan's repeated suicide attempts.

You wrote:
>In the perfect world, Bill Donohue would read the Star's description of the photos Ratigan took and the physical contact he had with his helpless victims and would issue a heart-felt apology for the shameful way he spun the story with lies and half-truths, not to "defend" the Catholic Church, but merely as a knee-jerk way of running interference for Bishop Finn and his criminal priest.

I reply:A rational & fair being would contact the diocese and get their side of the story. I hate to break it to you friend. But St Sir Thomas More said he would give the Devil himself the benefit of Law. If only for his own safety(go look it up in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS). Why should Bill automatically believe the Star and the Times? If even the Devil is given the benfit of doubt then how much more a Bishop of God?

So no bishop can be defended? They are once accused by the NYTimes they are guilty till proven innocent?

Is that fair?

Of course to be fair I don't automatically believe or disbelieve Bill's meme about left wing catholics.

I have to think for myself. But so far I am not impressed.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Ben, you are overlooking one huge element in this story: the independent report that the diocese paid for - the Graves Report. That's the empirical evidence in this case. Here's the link - http://www.diocese-kcsj.org/_docs/8-31-11_Report_of_Independent_Investigation.pdf .

I agree that we should step aside from partisan politics in these cases. The Graves Report does that. It covers the facts, simply as the facts, and bypasses any media bias.

Also not the Stipulation of Testimony in Finn's criminal case - http://www.bishop-accountability.org/legal/State_of_Missouri_v_Bishop_Finn/2012_09_06_Finn_Stipulation_of_Testimony_R.pdf - the facts that Finn conceded and admitted to.

BenYachov said...

Kevin I am defending Bill Donohue here & taking issue with your prima facia seemingly slanderous statement that he was "downplaying Ratigan's crimes and asserted that no child pornography was involved."

I was lead here from the link on Mark Shea's blog where he makes the same disturbing attacks on Bill Donohue.

I've read criticisms and defenses of Finn across the net. I even read a poster on your own blog who read the Graves Report & disagrees with your conclusions.

So Finn's guilt or innocence is not the issue for me.

You attack on Donohue is the issue with me. It's misleading and unjust.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Ben, you apparently refuse to read the Graves Report yourself. Instead you're relying on second-hand reports based on the original, and relying on a comment someone made on this blog - someone who apparently did what you didn't do, and read the report.

That's your perogative.

But the strange thing is that you quote Donohue saying that "crotch shots" of little girls do not constitute pornography - you actually quote this - and then you defend him, claiming he's not excusing what Ratigan did.

All I'm saying, Ben, is that, while you have no obligation to read the Graves Report, or the KC Star article that details what Ratigan actually did, Donohue does indeed have an obligation to do so. If he did, he would be ashamed of himself and the half-truths he spewed when this story broke.

Shea and I are not defaming this man. We are pointing out that he is morally obligated as a human being, much less a Christian, to apologize for what he said when he went on his ill-informed knee-jerk defense of Finn, a defense which promulgated a lot of misinformation and added to the injustice and abuse the victims in this case have suffered.

But I admire your defense of him, for it shows some loyalty (albeit misplaced). I do think, however, Ben, that you would see things our way if you looked at some of the original documents in this case, and even if you read the KC Star article I link to. You make a good case for empirical evidence. Avail yourself of it.

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

>Ben, you apparently refuse to read the Graves Report yourself. Instead you're relying on second-hand reports based on the original, and relying on a comment someone made on this blog - someone who apparently did what you didn't do, and read the report.

>That's your perogative.

Excuse me but What part of "Kevin I am defending Bill Donohue etc.... here So Finn's guilt or innocence is not the issue for me." is unclear to you?

I am defending Donohue(who was defending Finn not Ratigan)in regards to something he said back in 2011 before this report came out. So I don't see how it is relavent?

>But the strange thing is that you quote Donohue saying that "crotch shots" of little girls do not constitute pornography - you actually quote this - and then you defend him, claiming he's not excusing what Ratigan did.

Hello? I am contending he is defending Finn not excusing Ratigan. I only just said that multiple times & you are ignoring me. Is that fair?

I also quoted Donohue saying "child porn" was found on Ratigan computer later on where as you said "no child pornography was involved."

>All I'm saying, Ben, is that, while you have no obligation to read the Graves Report, or the KC Star article that details what Ratigan actually did, Donohue does indeed have an obligation to do so. If he did, he would be ashamed of himself and the half-truths he spewed when this story broke.

So Donohue must be faulted for not reading a report on Ratigan when he was defending Finn? Did this report exist when he talked about it in 2011? Excuse me but I read the Catholic League's website & even Bill said Finn can be legitimatly criticised for how he handled the Ratigan case but his issue was the man had to be treated fairly and reported on fairly.

He contends the Star wasn't doing that. You believe the Star. I take no sides but claiming Donohue was trying to defend or excuse Ratigan is a bit off puting.

If that was not your intention then you need to be careful how you turn a praise. Even as you criticise others.

That is only fair isn't it?


>Shea and I are not defaming this man. We are pointing out that he is morally obligated as a human being, much less a Christian, to apologize for what he said when he went on his ill-informed knee-jerk defense of Finn, a defense which promulgated a lot of misinformation and added to the injustice and abuse the victims in this case have suffered.

So that is what you both really meant? Good to know! Next time just SAY IT don't waste my time with mishigoss about Donohue defending Ratigan & claiming no child pornography was involved in his case when HIS OWN WORDS say the opposite?

K'ey?


>But I admire your defense of him, for it shows some loyalty (albeit misplaced). I do think, however, Ben, that you would see things our way if you looked at some of the original documents in this case, and even if you read the KC Star article I link to. You make a good case for empirical evidence. Avail yourself of it.

I am not interested in litigating Finn's guilt or innocence or level of culpibility. I am defending Donohue for the umptempth time! OY VEY!!! I am interested in you practicing what you preach.

Is that to much to ask.

There I hope Rosemarie's proud of me I kept from loosing my temper. Though you didn't make it easy Kevin.

Peace to you.

BenYachov said...

>Ben, that you would see things our way if you looked at some of the original documents in this case,

That is why I am here complaining. Because I went to the Catholic League's website to get Bill own words & not other characterizations of them.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Ben, thanks for not losing your temper. I know how hard that is!

Finn mishandled this. Donohue defended Finn by downplaying what Ratigan did AND what Finn did. Ben, if you read the Graves Report and the Stipulation of Testimony, you'll find that both Ratigan and Finn behaved abysmally here.

And I get it that you're defending Donohue for defending Finn. But in doing so, Donohue either did no due diligence in investigating this case by reading the source documents, or he deliberately twisted the truth. Read my original rebuttal to Donohue here - http://thwordinc.blogspot.com/2011/10/spin-shall-set-you-free.html. Read that, please, Ben, if you want to comment further. It's a direct rebuttal at the time Donohue wrote what he wrote - a time when the Graves Report was indeed available, in 2011. (Your assertion is wrong. The Grave report existed before Donohue spun his spin, and both Donohue and I had access to it.)

What Donohue did was spin lies to protect a bishop who has no business being a bishop. I did not call for Finn's resignation at the time, but I have since.

***

We don't need to continue this. As I said, I admire your fortitude here. But if you took the time to read the source documents, Ben, which you could do within an hour - and if you read the KC Star article on what came out in Ratigan's testimony, you'd understand.

And you'd understand that you can't defend Finn without defending Ratingan, because Finn was defending Ratigan and not the little girls.

And that's the pattern here - the bishops defend the abusers and cover their butts, but treat with contempt the children who are victimized.

BenYachov said...

@Kevin

>Finn mishandled this. Donohue defended Finn by downplaying what Ratigan did AND what Finn did.

Nope! Finn may have mishandled this & if you would read the CL website they stipulate as much. Donohue didn't downplay anything(he explicitly stated what
Ratigan did as reported by others) but he gave Finn's side of the story at the time & his issue was that it be reported accurately and Finn be treated fairly. I read the CL website & I don't read any calls by Donohue for Finn's mister-meaner to be overturned but I do read complaints when certain members of the media claim he commited a felony.

That is not unreasonable and saying Donohue was downplaying what Ratigan did is unfair.

>Ben, if you read the Graves Report and the Stipulation of Testimony, you'll find that both Ratigan and Finn behaved abysmally here.

So what? What does that have to do Donohue calling for Finn to be treated fairly by the media? Besides I read one of the links Dan C over at Shea's gave me from a bishop accounability website. It said the diociese saved the incriminating photos of Ratigan from his computer(which was destoryed by his brother) & turned them over to the police. If they where trying to bend over backwards to protect this man(like some really really bad dioceses who shall go unmentioned) then why bother to do that?

>And I get it that you're defending Donohue for defending Finn. But in doing so, Donohue either did no due diligence in investigating this case by reading
the source documents, or he deliberately twisted the truth.

You are irrational here. Everyone deserves a defense, to be treated fairly & is innocent till proven guilty. Donohue is an old ACLU civil libertarian (ironically the modern ACLU isn't these days) and is just upholding that.

Or is it your contention Finn is guilty as sin & must by that brute fact not be treated fairly & any who say otherwise spin for pedophiles?

>Read my original rebuttal to Donohue here - http://thwordinc.blogspot.com/2011/10/spin-shall-set-you-free.html. Read that, please, Ben, if you want to comment further. It's a direct rebuttal at the
time Donohue wrote what he wrote - a time when the Graves Report was indeed available, in 2011. (Your assertion is wrong. The Grave report existed before Donohue spun his spin, and both Donohue and I had access to it.)

The Report was produced in Aug Donohue started defending Bishop Finn from an attack by the NCR in July & again the theme was/is demanding Finn be treated
in a fair manner not proclaiming his guilt or innocence a head of time.

Niggelling over weither he should agree or not with the term "pornography" is hair-spliting considering he explicitly said Ratigan had "crotch shots" photos of children and one nude photo that they where disturbing. People can make their own prudent judgments.

>What Donohue did was spin lies to protect a bishop who has no business being a bishop. I did not call for Finn's resignation at the time, but I have since.

Put up or shut up. What specific untruth did Donohue knowing full well it was an untruth promulgate? That is a serious charge and I am not going to wade
threw 150 pages of Graves & 50 more on the CL website. Show me the lie he told? The burden of proof is on the accuser. That is you my friend but YOU SIR still falsely claimed Donohue said there was no child pornography involved when he himself said more racey "child porn" was later found on Ratigan's computer.

If Donohue is "defending" & "downplaying" for Ratigan & if God forbid I was Ratigan I would say "STOP HELPING ME!".


BenYachov said...

Also Donohue is not morally speaking required to call for Finn resignation. That is for the individual to judge with their own prudent judgment based on their reading of the evidence. Some of your reads agree with you & some disagree from the evidence. Even if I agreed with you Finn should go that does not change my defense here about the role of Donohue or my objection to the unfair way your are treating him.

>We don't need to continue this. As I said, I admire your fortitude here. But if you took the time to read the source documents, Ben, which you could do within an hour - and if you read the KC Star article on what came out in Ratigan's testimony, you'd understand.

So I get the last word? Good! Sorry but all I understand is you apparently smeared a man (i.e. Donohue) & my defense of him is not relavent to the guilt or innocence of either Finn nor Ratigan & your smokescreen is not convincing.


>And you'd understand that you can't defend Finn without defending Ratingan, because Finn was defending Ratigan and not the little girls.

I skimmed the Graves report and skipped to one of the onclusions. If Finn is trying to protect Ratigan he did a poor job of it preserving all the evidence on his computer and turning it over to the police. But even if Finn is guilty of the crimes you accuse him here of that doesn't change the brute fact it was still correct for Donohue to call for Finn to be treated fairly by the press and call them out when he believed they where not doing so.

>And that's the pattern here - the bishops defend the abusers and cover their butts, but treat with contempt the children who are victimized.

Well if I ever became an abusing Priest I would not want an incompetent like Finn in my corner preserving incriminatuing material from my computer before my brother gets to destroy it!

Kevin he who fight monsters best beware he does not become one. Believe me from experience. If you stare into the abyss it stares back at you.

Finn has a right to be treated fairly & Bill was correct to advocate for that.
Bill defended leftys bishops like Cardinal Bernadin & rightlys like Pat Buchanan. He insisted the media treat them fairly & that doesn't mean he endorced either of them across the board!

This is just common sense & fairness!

BenYachov said...

Let me just end with this analogy.

There is no logical reason why I couldn't believe George Zimmerman did in fact jump Travon Martin & maybe might even believe the verdict acquitting him was wrong.

But even if hypothetically I believe the above I would still condemn the media for doctoring Zimmerman's 911 call to make him look racist & refusing to publish photos of his cuts and bruses and falsely claiming he had none.

If only because that might help a potental murder beat the rap.

Like St Sir Thomas More said I would give the Devil himself the benefit of Law if only for my own pertection.

Donohue is right to protect all Catholics from a bias media. He is right to call out those with a political agenda who go after Bishop Finn & demand he be treated fairly. Even if Finn is as guilty as you say and all Finn's defenders of his innocence are wrong.

It's that simple! Besides Ratigan has been found guilty & we can learn from Finn's mistakes to make sure we do better next time.

That in the end is all you can do.

Kevin O'Brien said...

I can't even read these any more.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Yachov, if you refuse to read the original documents, I will simply delete any further comments you make on this issue. Inform yourself. You are not making sense and I am tired of this. The truth will set you free. Avail yourself of it.

Kevin O'Brien said...

And Bill Donohue is a demagogue and a fraud. The fact that he makes $400,000 a year is a crime. He is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Skim that, Ben Yachov.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Ben Yakov posted two comments that I deleted because, as I said, I will not allow him to comment on this issue until he reads the original documents, which he has so far refused to do.

Ben does accuse me of smearing Donohue for ideological reasons. No, Ben, his ideology is similar to mine - orthodox Catholic. What I am criticizing Donohue for is his knee-jerk defense of Finn and Ratigan, and his downplaying of Ratigan's crimes in the process - which he did for ideological reasons, not out of concern for justice or innocent children.

I also told Ben he's not making sense, and Ben asked me to be specific. Well, for one thing Ben, in your deleted comment you wrote, "I explained why Finn's guilt or innocence isn't relevant to your attack on Donohue," but that's not what you've been saying all along - unless "Finn" is a typo for "Ratigan". Either way, the guilt or innocence of Finn and Ratigan is central to my criticism of Donohue, and any normal person can see that, Ben.

Ben, just take a step back for a minute and see what you've posted in this combox. I point out that Ratigan was a full-fledged abuser and that his photographs were child porn, and I insist that Donohue down-played this. You quote Donohue down-playing this and you claim that's irrelevant to what I'm saying.

I point out that Donohue made his readers believe that Finn had handled the situation adroitly, when in fact Finn handled the situation abysmally - as anyone who reads the Graves Report and the Stipulation of Testimony can see. These are documents that assert the facts that Finn concedes - direct facts not filtered through potentially biased reporting. And yet you continue to ignore these very facts.

Your comments are irrational and smug and you are accusing me of being irrational and smug.

Ben, you seem like a good guy, and I assume you're a devout Catholic. You are more than welcome to post comments elsewhere on this blog on any other issue but this.

But just take a moment and see what you're saying and how bad you're making yourself look. And beyond that, take a minute to realize the harm that Bill Donohue has done.

Kevin O'Brien said...

... and by the way, Donohue's point was not to try to get the media to get the facts straight. It never was. Donohue himself could care less about the facts. He is a demagogue and a bully. That's not an attack. That's an assessment based on how the man has behaved in this case alone.

Call that an "ideological attack", Ben. Tell me to take it to the confessional. Tell me you'll pray for me. Spin it however you will.

It's simply true.

Kevin O'Brien said...

And, Ben, I'll let you comment on this issue again, if and when you read the source documents.

BenYachov said...

@Kevin


>Ben Yakov posted two comments that I deleted because, as I said, I will not allow him to comment on this issue until he reads the original documents, which he has so far refused to do.

I haven't refused to read them(indeed I have skimmed threw the conclusions) & I explained why they are not relavent to the point I have been trying to make repeatedly but you insist this is all about Finn and Ratigan. I simply don't agree & you given me no reason to think otherwise.

I even pointed out I could concede your characterization of Finn & my defense of Donohue would still remain valid.

You are not listening to me or even trying to dialog & I am not going to bang my head against the wall over this.

>And, Ben, I'll let you comment on this issue again, if and when you read the source documents.

I must decline since I don't respond to force & I maintain the Graves document isn't relevant to my point or my contentions against you.

Again we are wasting each others time. It's an unequal conversation since you have the power to delete my posts at will & mischaracterize what I have said at will.

I did write a point by point answer to your above but I am not going to post it.

Again what would be the point? I have no garentee you will answer it fairly or even leave it here given your actions thus far You have made up your mind.

I will just have to turn the other cheek and shake the dust from my feet.

I bear you no ill will & will still pray for you & hope you pray for me.

God Bless.

Kevin O'Brien said...

This I will leave up just because it ought to embarrass you, but it doesn't.

Well, keep reading this blog, Ben, and maybe you can find a way to comment on something without taking such a superior tone while at the same time refusing to be rational. Yeah, pray for me and shake the dust off of your feet because you're behaving like a Christian and I'm not. Lord, what a messed up place the internet is.

And there's no force or intimidation involved at all. If you choose to blind yourself to the truth, you are free to do so. At least everybody who's read this far knows what your motivations are in being deliberately blind and proud of it. And as to your argument that the actual facts of the case - Ratigan's crimes and Finn's mishandling of them - have no bearing on what Donohue said ... right. Good luck with that.

As to how people act like complete jerks on the internet and then accuse their victims of being complete jerks - that's quite a feat. I go into that here ... http://thwordinc.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-label-hates-your-label.html