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Univ. of St. Thomas: Officials unaware of Keating sex abuse claim

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Explore the full investigation Clergy abuse, cover-up and crisis in the Twin Cities Catholic church

A private investigation funded by the University of St. Thomas has determined that top university officials did not know about an abuse allegation against the Rev. Michael Keating, a priest of the Twin Cities archdiocese who resigned from his teaching job at the university in September.

In an email to the University of St. Thomas community, president Julie Sullivan said a handful of university officials - Sullivan, former president Dennis Dease, and their "current or former direct reports" did not know about allegations against Keating. 

"Moreover, no university employees who had authority to make decisions regarding restrictions or conditions on Father Keating's activities at the university were aware of the allegations or of any recommendations or restrictions."

Sullivan said the investigation results "are confidential."

Rev. Michael Keating
Rev. Michael Keating
George Martell/The Pilot Media Group

"There is a report but we're not going to release it," Doug Hennes, St. Thomas' vice president for university and government relations, said.

The statement did not say whether others at the university knew of the allegations. For example, Hennes said the statement "would not include Don Briel," the former head of the Catholic Studies department who retired this summer amid questions about whether the archdiocese told him of an abuse complaint against Keating years earlier.

Abuse allegations against Keating became public in October 2013 when a woman sued the priest, claiming that he sexually abused her in the late 1990s when she was about 13 to 15 years old. The lawsuit remains unresolved.  

Keating, through his attorney, denied any wrongdoing.

Documents published by MPR News last year showed that a top church deputy planned to inform Briel about the findings of a private archdiocesan investigation of an abuse complaint against Keating. 

Briel retired in August amid questions about his role in the Keating case.

Below are excerpts from the email sent Tuesday by university president Julie Sullivan:

•  Prior to October 2013, neither I, President Emeritus Father Dennis Dease, nor any of our current or former direct reports, were aware that allegations of sexual abuse or inappropriate conduct had been made against Father Keating. We also were not aware of the Clergy Review Board recommendations or any restrictions regarding his activities. Moreover, no university employees who had authority to make decisions regarding restrictions or conditions on Father Keating's activities at the university were aware of the allegations or of any recommendations or restrictions. 

• The university has not received any complaints of, and is not aware of any unreported allegations of, sexual misconduct against Father Keating during his time at the university. 

• The university has not received any complaints of, and is not aware of any unreported allegations of, sexual misconduct against other members of the clergy currently or previously working at St. Thomas that have not been promptly reviewed and addressed by the university. 

•  St. Thomas has a robust program for the reporting and handling of allegations of sexual misconduct. Our priority is to ensure that everyone in our community clearly understands their responsibility to report concerns and allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse.