Report: Church official who investigated priest has stepped down from St. Thomas board

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A Catholic official who was involved in three sexual misconduct investigations of other priests has stepped down from the board of directors at the University of St. Thomas.

The Star Tribune reports that Rev. Kevin McDonough became the second high-ranking church official to step aside since allegations began surfacing that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis did not take action against priests accused of sexual improprieties. The paper reports that McDonough resigned on Oct. 4.

McDonough, a former vicar general in the archdiocese, was involved in the investigation of claims against the Rev. Michael Keating in 2006.

Internal documents from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis reveal that the church in 2006 investigated allegations of sexual contact between a University of St. Thomas priest and a teenage girl but did not find enough evidence to warrant action, MPR News reports.

Still, archdiocese officials recommended to Archbishop Harry Flynn that Keating not be allowed to mentor teenagers and young adults, according to the documents obtained by MPR. One internal memo written by an Archdiocese investigator to the archbishop and other church officials noted "an ongoing pattern of irresponsible seductiveness (non-sexual) in Father Keating's life."

But it's not clear if that recommendation ever made it to St. Thomas officials, MPR reports.

Keating, 57, a St. Thomas professor and priest, took a temporary leave from the university Oct. 11. On Monday, a lawyer for a 28-year-old Twin Cities woman filed a lawsuit in Ramsey County that alleges Keating abused her in the late 1990s when she was 13 to 15 years old.

Keating has not commented, but his lawyer on Thursday called the allegations false and highly defamatory. He said the claims were discredited six years ago, and are now causing Keating great pain.

"The plaintiff's accusations at that time were independently investigated by multiple government agencies, professionals, and organizations, including the Chisago County Sheriff, the Chisago County Attorney, the Archdiocese, and two independent forensic psychologists. These comprehensive efforts concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated," lawyer Fred Bruno said.

St. Thomas this week announced it was launching its own investigation.

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