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Priest who was sued for abusing girl resigns from St. Thomas

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A priest who was sued last year for allegedly sexually abusing a teenage girl has resigned his faculty position at the University of St. Thomas, the school announced Wednesday.

The Rev. Michael Keating, 58, had been a full-time faculty member in the Department of Catholic Studies since 2005. He has been on a leave of absence since October 2013, when the lawsuit was filed, according to the Star Tribune.

His letter of resignation was posted on the university website.

“After careful consideration of my current situation in light of my employment options and long-standing goals, I have decided to resign my faculty position with the University of St. Thomas effective immediately. I have greatly enjoyed my time at the university and take with me fond memories of the St. Thomas community.”

The lawsuit claims Keating sexually abused the girl in the late 1990s when she was 13 years old. At the time, Keating was studying to become a priest. The woman is now 28 years old and lives in the Twin Cities. The lawsuit is still pending, and Keating has denied any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit also raised questions about how the university and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis handled the case.

According to MPR News, the girl's parents informed the archdiocese of the abuse in 2006. An archdiocesan review board investigated and found insufficient evidence that Keating committed sexual abuse. But it recommended that Keating not be allowed to mentor teenagers and young adults.

Since Keating continued teaching, that recommendation apparently was not followed, and it's unclear why that was the case. The university is conducting its own investigation into how the abuse complaint against Keating was handled by school officials.

Former Archbishop Harry Flynn and former Vicar General Kevin McDonough both resigned from the St. Thomas board of directors last fall after the Keating case came to light and their roles in allegedly covering up sexual abuse were questioned, said MPR News.

The University of St. Thomas is not run by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, but the two are closely connected.

The Keating case is just one of several lawsuits that have been filed against Catholic priests and church leaders in Minnesota by plaintiffs who claim they were sexually abused by clergy, sometimes decades ago. The first such lawsuit to go to trial will be heard by a Ramsey County judge in November.

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