A Minnesota Roman Catholic priest accused of sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old boy has returned to public ministry, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday.
Bishop Michael Hoeppner placed the Rev. Patrick Sullivan on administrative leave as pastor of St. Elizabeth's Parish in Dilworth and St. Andrew's Parish in Hawley following the allegations.
"The Diocese of Crookston Board of Review for the Protection of Children and Young People (Board) reviewed the deposition of the Plaintiff and deemed the allegation not credible," the Diocese wrote in a public statement (PDF). "Following the policy and recommendation of the Board, and adhering to Canon Law, Bishop Hoeppner has reinstated Fr. Sullivan for public ministry."
The victim's attorney, Jeff Anderson, slammed Rev. Sullivan's reinstatement.
“There is information that has not been made known to the public that is in Bishop Hoeppner’s possession that demonstrates that this diocese and Hoeppner are doing the wrong thing again," Anderson revealed.
The St. Paul attorney said the "reckless" decision “poses a threat of harm to children.”
Monsignor Mike Foltz of the Crookston Diocese denied Bishop Hoeppner had additional troubling information about the Rev. Sullivan.
But the victim's attorney argued that Bishop Hoeppner knew Rev. Sullivan “posed a serious risk of harm” before his client came forward with his allegations.
The Star Tribune noted the Crookston Diocese has released the names of six additional priests accused of sexually molesting minors since 2014. More than 500 claims of sexual abuse by Minnesota clerby have been made during the last four years.
“He was there for Christmas,” Monsignor Foltz said of Rev. Sullivan's return. “The people were ecstatic, from the children to the parents to the grandparents. They swarmed him with love and affection and hugs.”