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Keating is director of the Habiger Institute for Catholic Leadership at St. Thomas and an associate professor of Catholic studies. He joined the university’s full-time faculty in 2005 and won tenure and a promotion in 2011.
Outside the university, Keating has been highly regarded by St. Paul church leaders and was recently chosen to be a speaker in the archdiocese’s important “Rediscover Catholicism” campaign.
A document furnished to the Star Tribune shows that the archdiocese investigated the woman’s claims, beginning in 2006. She testified before a clergy abuse review panel for the archdiocese, but the panel concluded in late 2007 that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of sexual abuse of a minor. The summary of the panel’s recommendations, delivered in writing to the woman, came with a warning that “further release or dissemination … is unauthorized.”
The woman said that she was crushed by the result and that she believed the process was merely a buffer for the archdiocese. “I think they did believe me,” she said, “but Keating was more important to them.”
Anderson said the church then returned Keating to active ministry with no public disclosure of the allegations or the review.
A copy of the panel’s recommendations for Keating shows that the group did not believe his priestly duties should be suspended “given his effectiveness in many areas of his work.”
A summary of the panel’s decision, dated Nov. 30, 2007, showed that the review board recommended that Keating be restricted from counseling or mentoring adolescents or young adults, or from going on retreats with them. He was to “participate in a structured program of coaching with an industrial psychologist or comparable professional” and have his activities supervised, the document said.
Anderson said he wanted to know how much supervision Keating received and whether his work at St. Thomas conflicted with the panel’s recommendations. “How can you be a priest, saying mass and teaching at a college, and not have access to kids?” asked Anderson.
The Chisago County Sheriff’s Department also investigated the girl’s allegations in 2006. In both instances, members of the girl’s family brought the complaints forward, saying she had suffered severe depression that included suicidal thoughts and a 10-day mental health stay at a Minneapolis hospital. No criminal charges were filed.
The woman said she never intended to sue Keating, but went to Anderson recently after seeing news coverage about alleged coverups in the archdiocese of child sexual abuse and alleged child pornography.
“I didn’t want to sue,” she said. “I love the Catholic Church.”
Tony Kennedy • 612-673-4213 Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511