ST. PAUL, Minn. - A woman is suing a university priest and professor in St. Paul for alleged sexual abuse beginning when she was 13 years old.
The civil lawsuit against the Rev. Michael Jerome Keating of the University of St. Thomas was filed Monday in Ramsey County.
The lawsuit accuses Keating of "unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact" with the woman between about 1997 and 2000, when he was a seminary student.
"It began by rubbing," said Jeff Anderson, attorney for the alleged victim, identified only as Jane Doe 20. "It began by taking his hands and putting them upon her breasts and having him lay upon her or her upon him. At the time, she was overwhelmed with this. She had never been kissed by a man."
Anderson said no intercourse occurred between the priest and the teenager. Jane Doe 20 did not appear at the news conference. A statement by her was read by a paralegal.
"Jane Doe raised some concerns about other girls that he made mention of, that he had romantic ties to," said Anderson, "and that makes us really concerned."
Anderson admitted that there is a financial penalty included in the lawsuit, but said that is not the focus.
"We are seeking to expose that he is a risk. We are seeking to make sure that he is removed from any ministry, that his faculties are removed, that he is exposed, that the community is warned."
Anderson said the then-seminarian was a friend of the girl's family in Chisago County. The alleged abuse occurred at the girl's home and continued for two years, according to Anderson.
The attorney said the then-grown woman confronted Keating in 2004 and then filed complaints to the Archdiocese in 2006, even appearing before the Clergy Review Board. Anderson said the Board found "insufficient evidence to support a finding of sexual abuse of a minor."
Keating did not return calls to his office phone or emails Monday seeking comment. St. Thomas spokesman Doug Hennes said Keating went on voluntary leave Sunday, but he wouldn't say why.
An archdiocese spokesman did not comment on the lawsuit.
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