Lawsuit alleges abuse by U of St. Thomas priest

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, October 15, 2013

ST. PAUL — A Twin Cities woman filed a lawsuit Monday against a Catholic priest and university professor from St. Paul, alleging he sexually abused her over two years beginning when she was 13 years old.

The civil lawsuit against the Rev. Michael Jerome Keating, an assistant professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, was filed in Ramsey County. Keating went on voluntary leave from his job Sunday and did not return several phone messages and emails seeking comment.

While Keating is the only defendant, the lawsuit alleges the woman reported her allegations to St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese leaders including then-Archbishop Harry Flynn and his deputy, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, in 2006 — the same year Keating joined the St. Thomas faculty.

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A Chisago County sheriff’s investigator looked into the allegations after the woman’s father filed a complaint in 2006. The investigator interviewed the woman, her parents and Keating, but determined after consulting with an assistant county attorney that there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.

The lawsuit comes as the archdiocese is reacting to allegations that top leaders ignored warnings in the last several years about two other priests. Archbishop John Nienstedt last week established a task force to review issues of clergy sexual conduct.