Kansas City priest sentenced to 50 years in prison for child porn

Kansas City priest sentenced to 50 years in prison for child porn
Shawn Ratigan.

KANSAS CITY - A Kansas City Catholic priest was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Thursday on federal child pornography charges for taking sexually explicit photos of several young girls, including a 2-year-old.

Shawn Ratigan, 47, pleaded guilty in August 2012 to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to produce child pornography.

"Society needs to be protected from you," US District Judge Gary Fenner told Ratigan before he pronounced the sentence. "You did this to yourself."

Prosecutors had sought the 50-year sentence, which they had said would amount to a life term, after it was discovered that he had taken hundreds of lewd photographs of young girls.

Ratigan, who was shackled and wore an orange jail jumpsuit, had pleaded with the judge to sentence him to 15 years in prison, the shortest term possible.

"There are no words that I can express to tell you my sorrow, but it's there," Ratigan told the judge. "I just couldn't help it."

"I know that God has forgiven me, my soul is in good shape,"Ratigan said. Prosecutors said Ratigan focused on girls from 2 to 12 years old and had committed multiple crimes over six years. Several counts were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

The mother of a 2-year-old girl who Ratigan was convicted of abusing, told the judge the priest should be put away for the full term because his actions had taken a lasting toll on the girl, her family and rocked their faith in the church.

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