MN--St. Thomas University staff should be fired

MN--St. Thomas University staff should be fired

For immediate release: Tuesday, Jan. 13

Statement by Frank Meuers of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (952-334-5180, frankameuers@gmail.com)

It’s time for students and staff at the University of St. Thomas to demand that wrongdoers are fired and a real investigation is launched into how much school officials knew about – and how little they did about – child sex abuse allegations against the popular, charismatic but predatory Fr. Michael Keating.   

It’s time for St. Thomas alums to sit on their checkbooks until a real investigation happens

It’s time for parents of current students to demand real action. And it’s time for parents of prospective students to think long and hard about whether they want to send their teenagers to a university with a troubling track record on simple safety.

Finally, it’s time for every university staff who acted recklessly and deceitfully in the Fr. Keating matter to be fired.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that just-released archdiocese documents show that the university’s most recent ex-president, Dennis Dease, “knew of child sex abuse allegations against a Catholic Studies professor for several years” which contradicts the university's claim last year that “Dease and other top administrators did not know about the allegations against the Rev. Michael Keating until late 2013.”

Then, the most alarming part: “The timing is important because Keating was allowed to work closely with students at St. Thomas.”

Some will now say that the university should release a full copy of the alleged investigation into this matter which essentially cleared any school officials of wrongdoing. That would be a tiny step forward. A new, truly independent investigation, however, would be better.

On the other hand, the evidence that has already surfaced showing the university’s deceit is already very clear and strong:

--“In one 2010 memo, Archbishop John Nienstedt rebuked Fr. Donald Briel, then head of St. Thomas' Catholic Studies program and Keating's boss, for letting Keating work a semester at the university's Catholic Studies program in Rome,” MPR reports.

--Fr. Briel explained that McDonough had "provided information about the entire process" involving the allegations against Keating. "We discussed the restrictions to be placed on Father Keating's ministry, during and after the investigation. . .and it was considered appropriate to have some supervision for a period of one year," Briel wrote.

--Fr. Briel also wrote "In order to discharge the monitoring obligation, we agreed that Father Paul Murray ... might be helpful in this area since he has wide experience in spiritual direction and has worked in similar cases. At the same time I informed the chaplain, Father Joseph Carola, S.J., of the situation in case concerns would be expressed during the semester."

So it’s obvious that several top university staff knew of the accusations against Fr. Keating and endangered kids through their secrecy. It’s equally obvious that university officials lied in 2013 and are still lying now.   

Like rats from a sinking ship, many Catholic institutions run from their local archbishop when he’s caught concealing or enabling clergy sex crimes. That’s what the University of St. Thomas officials did in 2013 and 2014 and are still doing. That’s self-serving, irresponsible and dangerous.

Again, we encourage everyone affiliated with the school to pressure university officials to sack the wrongdoers, launch a real investigation, and sack more wrongdoers if that investigation warrants further discipline.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy 314-566-9790, davidgclohessy@gmail.com, Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org, Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747, bblaine@SNAPnetwork.org, Verne Wagner 218- 340-1277, lwagsmn@yahoo.com   

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