Sullivan expresses shock, sadness at Keating lawsuit

By  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 6:44 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 7.25.37 PM

Baihly Warfield contributed to this report.

This item was posted in Church Investigations, Latest News, More News, News and has 5 comments so far.


  1. Lizzy Schmitt
    Oct. 15, 2013 8:38 AM

    This makes it sounds like Dr. Sullivan is assuming this to be true. When this came up in 2006, it was dropped because there wasn’t sufficient evidence. I respect that she is making a statement to the University and I’m glad she did, but it’s too soon to jump to conclusions. We should give the members of our St. Thomas community the benefit of the doubt and, as I recall, the court system says we are innocent until proven guilty. Father Keating has done so much for this University and is an esteemed national figure. Let’s refrain from “making assumptions” or judgments, as Dr. Sullivan said, and continue to be united in prayer for all involved.

  2. Geena Maharaj
    Oct. 15, 2013 3:02 PM

    It’s unfortunate that you’re interpreting her words as assumptive, Lizzy. She explicitly says not to gossip and make assumptions, and even goes on to say she’s praying for both Keating and the victim. Dr. Sullivan’s message to the St. Thomas community was sincerely and tactfully crafted. It makes me respect her that much more.

    I personally hope that justice is served to she/he who’s deserving.

  3. Elizabeth Harris
    Oct. 16, 2013 1:03 PM

    I, too, found this message to be wonderfully crafted. What an inspiring message to hear amidst this unfortunate circumstance. I found her words to be respectful and successful in binding the community of UST together during this difficult time. Dr. Sullivan each day proves to me to be a wonderful asset to this university, and I am so happy to be a student under her leadership for a year prior to graduating. 

  4. Lizzy Schmitt
    Oct. 17, 2013 9:57 PM

    Thanks for your comment, Geena. Upon further reflection, I don’t mean that President Sullivan was making assumptions. I think she handled it extremely well and I’m very thankful that she’s our new leader. I think there have been assumptions made about the situation, but not from her or the University. I agree that we should keep praying for everyone involved and not assume anything but just wait for the facts.

  5. Michael Skiendzielewski
    Oct. 23, 2013 10:54 AM

    Jennifer Haselberger, Chancellor of Canonical Affairs
    “However, we also have obligations as Christians and citizens of our communities. When it
    becomes a question of breaking the law or putting children at risk, I believe the need to maintain the distinction is superseded by a more powerful obligation,” she said.
    Fr. Kevin McDonough, a former vicar general who served as delegate for safe environment
    McDonough wrote, Wehmeyer was “not all that interested in an actual sexual encounter, but rather was obtaining some stimulation by ‘playing with fire.’ This sort of behavior would not show up in the workplace.”
    Two points of view regarding “risk” of sexual abuse to children and young adults. Whose understanding and perspective are the parishioners of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul more comfortable with and trust in?

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