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New lawsuit alleges St. Thomas priest had sexual contact with underage girl

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A St. Paul attorney filed a civil lawsuit Monday alleging that a prominent Twin Cities priest had inappropriate sexual contact with an underage girl when he was a seminary student.

As WCCO reports, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Sunday that the Rev. Michael Keating is taking a leave of absence. Keating is an associate professor at the University of St. Thomas' Center for Catholic Studies. He has not spoken with media about the allegations.

Attorney Jeffrey Anderson represents the woman, who is now 28, the Star Tribune reports. The Pioneer Press reports Anderson claims the archdiocese was first alerted to the incident in 2006.

He told the Star Tribune he finds it troubling that the archdiocese kept Keating in ministry for the past seven years.

The lawsuit says Keating "inflicted unpermitted, harmful, and offensive sexual contact upon the person of Plaintiff."

In an interview with the Star Tribune, the unidentified woman says Keating touched her when she was 13, 14 and 15 years old. She told the newspaper that Keating "touched her breasts on several occasions, gave her massages, had her lie on top of him once while they were both wearing clothing."

Just last week the archdiocese named a task force to take a closer look at recent allegations of sexual misconduct by priests and how the church has handled them. Those include the case of a St. Paul priest who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys and an investigation into whether a priest in Hugo had child pornography on his computer. Archbishop John Nienstedt says addressing the allegations is the top priority for the archdiocese.

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