CROOKSTON, Minn. — A priest with the Catholic Diocese of Crookston who in the past spent time on administrative leave following allegations of wrongdoing is again on administrative leave.
Bishop Michael Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston said in a written statement dated Feb. 23 that the Rev. Pat Sullivan was placed on administrative leave after a report was made involving Sullivan and "a boundary issue."
Hoeppner said the report was non-sexual and non-criminal in nature, but after reviewing the situation, the Diocesan Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People recommended that Sullivan be assessed and receive in-patient treatment.
Diocese Communications Director Janelle Gergen told the Grand Forks Herald the diocese considers a boundary issue to involve language or actions “that would serve to benefit the needs of the giver rather than to serve the needs of the receiver.” She also said the incident involved a minor.
The diocese stated in December 2017 that in April 2016, Sullivan had been placed on administrative leave after the diocese was served with a civil complaint through the office of attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented the plaintiff in the complaint.
In the December 2017 statement, the diocese said Sullivan was resuming priestly duties at St. Elizabeth's Parish in Dilworth and St. Andrew's Parish in Hawley after the diocese concluded that allegations of wrongdoing made against Sullivan were unfounded.
The civil complaint claimed that in approximately 2008, while serving as pastor at St. Mary's Mission Church in Red Lake, Minn., Sullivan had sexual contact with the plaintiff, who was 15 years old at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.
The diocese said in December 2017 that local and federal authorities had investigated the matter and no criminal charges were filed. The diocese said the 2017 decision to reinstate Sullivan was made after the plaintiff was deposed by diocesan attorneys, and the Diocese of Crookston Board of Review for the Protection of Children and Young People deemed the accusations not credible.
A lawsuit that Anderson's firm, Jeff Anderson & Associates, filed against the diocese in 2017 in Red Lake County (Minn.) District Court remains pending.
Anderson said Friday, March 1, that it was not surprising that Sullivan was again under scrutiny, and he said the diocese was once more underplaying the danger posed to the community.
"This is a repeat performance by the diocese," Anderson said.