University of St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan said she was “shocked and saddened” by the news that a priest faculty member was named in a sexual abuse lawsuit in Ramsey County court on Monday.
Sullivan, in an email to St. Thomas faculty, staff and students, said she was praying for the alleged victim, the Rev. Michael Keating and for the entire community.
Keating, 57, was named in a lawsuit alleging he had “unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact” with a female minor beginning when she was 13 years old.
Sullivan, who assumed the presidency on July 1, 2013, addressed the situation Monday evening, urging the St. Thomas community “not to gossip or to make assumptions, but to engage in constructive and thoughtful dialogue.”
She reiterated that St. Thomas has zero tolerance for child abuse and sexual misconduct. She asked the community to keep all victims of abuse in its prayers.
“One thing I admire about the St. Thomas community is our ability to help each other in difficult times,” Sullivan said in the email.
She confirmed Keating’s leave of absence from the university and said other faculty members are taking over his classes. She also stressed that St. Thomas is reviewing the situation and will make any inquiries deemed appropriate.
Keating, who came to the university in 2006, was teaching two classes during the fall 2013 semester- Catholic Studies 101: Search for Happiness and Catholic Studies 321: Modernity in the Church. He is an associate professor in the Catholic studies department.
A freshman student in one of Keating’s courses said the course was cancelled Monday.
Full email from President Julie Sullivan:
Baihly Warfield contributed to this report.