"Boundary Violation" Means No Grad School for Twin Cities Priest

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
August 27, 2014

The future of a Twin Cities priest who resigned from his parish over the summer apparently is up in the air after a plan to send him to graduate school was scuttled.

Officials at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have confirmed that the Rev. Joseph Gallatin will not be attending Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

"After we published in the Catholic Spirit Father Gallatin's assignment to pursue his studies at Catholic University, it is our understanding that a victims' group contacted the university to oppose Father Gallatin's attendance," Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens said Wednesday.

"In consultation with Father Gallatin, we agreed this would not be a good situation for all involved, and he voluntarily withdrew his application. Full disclosure was made to Catholic University at the time of his application.

"At this time, no decision has been made about Father Gallatin's assignment."

Frank Meuers, a Minnesota director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he did not contact the university regarding Gallatin and has not heard of other SNAP members doing so.

Gallatin, 43, served most recently at the Church of St. Peter in Mendota. On Dec. 29, the archdiocese said he was taking a leave from active ministry after a review of priest files disclosed one incident of what the archdiocese called a "boundary violation." He was placed on restricted status and resigned in July.

A July 2 announcement in the Catholic Spirit, the archdiocese's official newspaper, said Gallatin had been "assigned" to the university to pursue academic studies.

Victor Nakas, spokesman for Catholic University of America, said last week that Gallatin was not enrolled there. He declined to say whether Gallatin had applied and whether the archdiocese had communicated to the university about his past.

It is not clear where the priest now lives. Gallatin did not return calls seeking comment.

Gallatin's personnel file was among those examined by the Clergy Review Board and Kinsale Management Consulting of Los Angeles at the behest of the archdiocese beginning late last year.

They re-examined an incident from 1998: On a mission trip to West Virginia with youth from a previous parish, Gallatin slipped his hand under a sleeping 17-year-old boy's shirt and rubbed his chest and abdomen because the boy was snoring, according to a June 22 statement by Archbishop John Nienstedt.

At the time, the Clergy Review Board looked into the incident and determined that Gallatin needed "evaluation, therapy and monitoring" but that his behavior did not constitute sexual abuse. The parish leaders were notified but the congregation was not.

There had not been any other incidents since that he knew of, Nienstedt said.

"However, the Clergy Review Board did find the 1998 action and recent evaluations of Rev. Gallatin concerning enough to recommend to me that I place significant restrictions on his ministry," Nienstedt said in the June statement. The incident was also referred to law enforcement, he said.

At that point, Gallatin offered his resignation from St. Peter and Nienstedt accepted it, the archbishop said.

Nienstedt said he would give Gallatin a new assignment "where he will not have any role in a parish setting or any other setting in which he will have vocational responsibilities that involve minors."

Gallatin made a statement to his parish that was posted on its website.

"I am truly sorry for the pain that this has caused the parish," he said. "So many of you have been a great help to me during this difficult time, and that makes it especially hard to say goodbye."

He said he would pray for them as he begins "a new chapter in my life as a priest."

Former archdiocese official-turned-whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger believed Gallatin's 1998 encounter with the teenager was more serious than officials were making it out to be.

In an affidavit she filed with the court in the civil case of Doe 1, a man who alleged sexual abuse by former priest Thomas Adamson, Haselberger gave further details about the Gallatin incident.

The rubbing "distressed the boy" and "Father Gallatin admitted he found (it) sexually pleasurable," she wrote. He later admitted to being "preoccupied" with male students at his parish school and having a sexual attraction to boys as young as 12, Haselberger said.

Before she resigned in April 2013, she tried to persuade former Vicar General Peter Laird -- who was in the same seminary class as Gallatin -- to review other material on Gallatin.

Laird said in a sworn deposition earlier this year for the Doe 1 case that, when he and Haselberger discussed it, "I asked what was done at the time, what was the conclusion. And it was very clear from what was reported to me that it wasn't (sexual abuse) ...."

Haselberger followed Laird out of the building one evening, trying in vain to get him to read portions of the Gallatin file that she had highlighted, she said.

He refused, saying "something to the effect that he did not have time to review past decisions and that he had been assured by others that there were no grounds for concern," Haselberger said.

Laird resigned from his position after media reports in the fall revealed mishandling of allegations of clergy misconduct.

Attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who represents Doe 1, questioned Laird in his deposition about whether he had asked Gallatin if he was sexually attracted to minors. Anderson also asked if Laird had directed anyone else to do so.

"No," Laird said. "There had been no evidence of that."

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Follow her at









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