Minnesota priest accused of misconduct returns to public ministry; attorney calls move ‘reckless’

Star Tribune

December 27, 2017

By Paul Walsh

Crookston bishop said clergy abuse panel “deemed the allegations not credible.”

A Roman Catholic priest on leave from two northwestern Minnesota parishes for 20 months amid an allegation of sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old boy returned to public ministry in time to celebrate Christmas.

In a statement posted on the Diocese of Crookston website Saturday, Bishop Michael Hoeppner said its clergy abuse review panel scrutinized a deposition given by the accuser in a lawsuit “and deemed the allegations not credible.”

The diocese statement also pointed out that local and federal authorities investigated the allegations and that “no criminal charges were filed.” No other accusations have been leveled against the Rev. Patrick Sullivan, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Sullivan returned to his work at the same parishes where he had been before, St. Elizabeth’s in Dilworth and St. Andrew’s in Hawley, said the Rev. Mike Foltz of the Crookston diocese.

“He was there for Christmas,” Foltz said. “The people were ecstatic, from the children to the parents to the grandparents. They swarmed him with love and affection and hugs.”

His accuser, now an adult, said that the sexual misconduct occurred more than eight years ago, when Sullivan was pastor at St. Mary’s Mission Church in Red Lake.

The diocese panel, called the Board of Review for the Protection of Children and Young People, is composed of two social workers, a county sheriff, a police detective, an attorney and a diocesan priest.

The board’s ruling was unanimous, Foltz said.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.