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“I’m afraid you are going to have to get used to being hounded by boys,” wrote Keating, who was then 44 and studying to be a priest. “You’re too pretty and too charming not to be and you’ll only get prettier and charmier as the years go by.”
There were indications in Keating’s e-mails that the girl did not always write back, and the girl’s mother told police investigators in 2006 that her daughter voiced some uneasiness about corresponding with Keating while he was in Rome.
“You don’t have to feel like you have to keep up writing with him,” the mother said she told her daughter.
Keating expressed affection in nearly all his e-mail sign-offs. In a long e-mail on Nov. 24, 2000, the seminarian signed off: “Love you scads (A scad is more than a bunch, similar to an oodle, way more than a lot). Miss you too.”
Another e-mail from Oct. 22, 1999, ended with: “Love you lots and lots and lots.” A month later, he ended another e-mail with “A kiss and a hug.” Another ended with an Italian phrase, “Con molto affetto,” meaning “with great affection.”
Keating often addressed struggles the girl was having in school or home, dwelling on her attributes. In the spring of 2000, for instance, he wrote: “You are a dear, sweet person and a really cool kid besides. (I could expand on this for a long time, but I don’t want to flatter you, it’s not good for your complexion).”
Keating’s e-mails frequently contained references to God. He equated her difficulties fitting in at school as “kind of a crucifixion.” In another e-mail, he offered this boost: “You’ve got really wonderful things ahead of you, kept secret for you by your Father in heaven, who sits up at night and thinks how beautiful you are and how he can delight you.”
Keating used pet names for himself including “Zucchini,” “Dr. Zuke,” “Your favorite Doctor,” and “Your favorite Italian Doc.” He commented about her appearance and once suggested that she wear “a leopard-skin vest above with pink spandex tights below” for some kind of competition. “You’ve got to nail the judges even before you say anything!”
Police seek public’s help
St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla said the department’s special invitation for victims of clergy sexual abuse to report their experience to an officer is part of an ongoing investigation sparked by a whistleblower at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The backbone of that investigation has to do with alleged child pornography downloaded by a Catholic priest from Mahtomedi and Hugo, but Padilla said Nash’s Family and Sexual Violence Unit is prepared to follow any new leads.
Nash said there could be one or more than 100 clergy sexual-abuse victims in St. Paul who have not yet reported their experience to police. “We don’t know,” she said. She asked anyone with information to call 651-291-1111.
Last week, the department reopened the 2004 child porn case after receiving new information. The renewed investigation follows allegations by former canonical chancellor Jennifer Haselberger that the church hierarchy failed to report child endangerment and child pornography to law enforcement.
Staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org 612-673-4213 email@example.com 612-673-4465