2014 National Crime Victims' Rights Week
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Gene Porter, Deputy United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, presented the Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award today to Kansas City Police Detective Maggie McGuire for her work on behalf of protecting children, most notably her investigation of convicted Roman Catholic priest Shawn Ratigan and Bishop Robert Finn.
Today’s award ceremony was part of an annual event hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and VictimNet, a coalition of victim service providers and others committed to meeting the needs of crime victims in Jackson County, in conjunction with the observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme, “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice,” honors the extraordinary achievements we have made on behalf of crime victims since the passage of the Victims of Crime Act in 1984.
Porter presented the Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award to McGuire in place of U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson, who is out of the country. McGuire is a long-time detective with the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and a former task force officer on the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force.
Porter praised McGuire’s “untiring and relentless work” in the investigation of Ratigan and Finn.
Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to produce child pornography over a period of nearly six years. Each of those five counts involved the sexual exploitation of a separate child victim, ranging in age from two years old to 12 years old at the time of the offenses.
Finn was found guilty in state court of failing to inform police about the child pornography found on Ratigan's computer and sentenced to two years of probation. Finn is the first U.S. bishop to be criminally charged for his role as a supervisor of priests. The case is also the first criminal case against a sitting bishop in the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
“But for (McGuire’s) work,” Porter said, “multiple victims might not have been identified, a predatory priest might not have been removed and sentenced to the functional equivalent of life in prison, and Robert Finn never would have become the first cleric of his rank in the United States to plead guilty and sustain a criminal conviction for failure to report suspected child abuse.”
McGuire overcame significant obstacles to investigate a unique case, said Porter. “When it becomes clear at the outset of the investigation that the entire hierarchy of a centuries-old religious denomination does not seem willing to recognize that the children depicted in the images are, in fact, victims of child exploitation, nor seem very willing to help establish the identity of the children depicted, and instead are spending millions of dollars on legal counsel in an ill-advised effort to avoid having the priest and bishop accept legal responsibility for their crimes, then you know, as an investigator, that your work is cut out for you.”
Porter noted that McGuire has investigated numerous child exploitation cases that have been successfully prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “She has insured that many dangerous sexual predators were taken off the streets for as long as possible,” Porter said.
“No one could have been better prepared to work on the cases against Father Shawn Ratigan and Bishop Robert Finn,” Porter said of McGuire. “From the very first day, years ago, that she was assigned to work on child exploitation cases, this detective was a pit bull in tracking down and catching child predators. Her dedication and persistence over the years identified and ultimately protected countless child victims in the Western District of Missouri who were portrayed in child pornography images that had been distributed all over the world.”
McGuire’s work on the Ratigan and Finn cases, Porter said, will continue to have a significant impact beyond the courtroom.
“The impetus for the additional programs and victims’ advocates put into place in the Diocese as a result of the Ratigan/Finn debacle, and the additional education of the community on the dangers of child exploitation — especially from the production of child pornography — all owe their origin to this detective’s work, and stand as a more positive legacy and a promise that children in our District will be protected for years to come.
The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award is presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office each year during the local observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to recognize the outstanding work of an individual or organization in protecting children from exploitation. The award was presented to McGuire in memory of Crystal Kipper and Ali Kemp, two young women who were both fatal victims of tragic crimes. Anna Rhea, Crystal Kipper’s mother, and Roger Kemp, Ali Kemp’s father, participated in today’s presentation.
Today’s event at the Jackson County Courthouse also featured comments from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and other victim advocates. The event showcased various local victim service providers and a victims’ memorial walk led by the Kansas City Mounted Patrol.
The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), enacted in 2004, grants victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at public court proceedings and to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has a dedicated Victim/Witness Unit that serves federal crime victims across the district’s 66 counties. Members of this unit notify victims of significant case events through the Department of Justice’s Victim Notification System (VNS). Such notice enables victims to participate in court proceedings and make their voices heard. Victim/Witness personnel accompany victims to court hearings and trials to ensure that victim participation in court proceedings is meaningful and to answer questions and explain the federal judicial process.
In addition to notification and court accompaniment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim/Witness Unit provides essential services to victims, such as making referrals for counseling, securing temporary housing, assisting with access to victim compensation funds, and accompanying victims to court to provide support and guidance during the proceedings. These services provide tools victims need to reshape their futures.
Further information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is available at http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.
The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial AwardCrystal Kipper was an 18-year-old Gladstone, Mo., resident who was murdered after her car broke down on Interstate 29, just north of Platte City, on Feb. 24, 1997. Ali Kemp was a 19-year-old Blue Valley North High School graduate who was murdered on June 18, 2002, while she worked at the Foxborough neighborhood swimming pool in Leawood, Kan.