Shawn Ratigan, a 47-year-old Catholic priest convicted of making child pornography, was sentenced to 50 years by a Kansas City federal judge Thursday afternoon.
Judge Gary Fenner labeled Ratigan a pedophile in serial fashion.
Minutes before, Ratigan choked back emotion as he told the judge, "Fifteen years is a lot of time, but fifty, come on."
Parents of the two-year-old girl photographed by Ratigan said they never want their child to see him again. The mother of the child said her daughter considered the priest her "best friend."
The child will be 52 if and when Ratigan emerges from prison.
Ratigan had served as church pastor and associate pastor in parishes around western Missouri. Some churches became impromptu studios for his lewd photography of young girls.
The mother of the child identified only as Jane Doe Number Two told the court the priest was family confessor and confidant.
When the child learned Ratigan had done something wrong, the mother said the youngster asked,”did he hurt anyone else?”
Ratigan told Judge Gary Fenner that he “couldn’t help it.”
"It’s an important piece of justice that clients be able to express themselves to the judge so he has an understanding of the depth of the pain that’s felt by these people when their children are so grossly violated," said attorney Rebecca Randles,who represented some of the parents. "This is a violating not only of the child. It’s a violation of the family.”
Ratigan asked to serve his sentence in Tuscon, Ariz.
Ratigan's case had wider repercussions in the Catholic community of western Missouri.
When pornographic and inappropriate images were found on his computer, Bishop Robert Finn did not report it to authorities for months. Finn later became the first American bishop convicted in a child sexual abuse case.
Finn is serving two years on probation for failing to report a pedophile cleric, a misdemeanor.