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Minn. Priest Takes Leave Of Absence Before Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A high-profile priest has abruptly taken a "voluntary and temporary leave of absence" the day before a sexual misconduct lawsuit is expected to be filed against him.

Father Michael Keating is an Associate Professor at the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas University.

WCCO has obtained this memo from the Vicar General sent to all clergy in the diocese Sunday, saying that Keating was taking a leave from his priestly duties.

On Sunday night, St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson announced he will be filing a lawsuit against Keating alleging that when he was a seminary student he engaged in sexual contact with an underage teen girl. The matter was brought to the Archdiocese attention back in 2006.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said earlier Sunday he had no knowledge of why Keating was taking a leave.

St. Thomas University released this statement: "Father Keating is taking a voluntary temporary leave from his job as a Professor in the Catholic Studies Department."

Keating could not be reached for comment.

This is the latest in a series of revelations about alleged abuse by local Catholic clergy and a series of alleged cover-ups by high ranking officials in the Diocese.

Last week, the Archdiocese formed a panel to review the claims. A criminal investigation by St. Paul police is also under way.

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