A woman who says she was sexually abused by former St. Thomas professor and priest Michael Keating spoke publicly for the first time Monday. The law firm handling the case also released once-secret files on Keating, who has denied any wrongdoing.
Marie Mielke had previously been identified as Jane Doe 20 in legal documents. Monday, the 29-year-old mother of two said that hiding something that isn't your fault is exhausting. As a young teen, she says a man on his way to becoming a priest befriended her family and ultimately took advantage of her.
"It was not my fault and it was never my fault," Mielke said. "The shame that I carried was not mine to carry -- it was his."
She says Father Michael Keating sexually touched her many times from the time she was 12 to 15. St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson says new documents from a clergy sex abuse settlement help Mielke prove her case.
"This file reflects the way the archdiocese and top officials chose to handle Marie's report," Anderson said.
The file shows a clergy review board didn't find sufficient evidence when Mielke brought the case to them in her 20s, but it did order monitoring in 2007 for Keating that three years later the archdiocese realized wasn't happening at all. Anderson also says the documents show Keating had a history of physical contact with young women -- a history he feels was ignored.
"She's made the choice to be here today born of courage to share her name with you," Anderson said.
Mielke said she never felt like the church respected her even though she had a psychologist report backing her up.
"To go in and sit there and talk to 12 strangers about how a man touched you when you were 13 years old…" she said in reflection.
Marie Mielke hopes by coming forward there will be changes for alleged victims of abuse.
Statement from Bishop Lee Piche, Auxiliary Bishop
"Rev. Michael Keating has been on a leave of absence from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis since October 2013, which means he is not exercising any priestly ministry. His leave of absence came after he was named in a lawsuit regarding claims that he had sexually abused a minor before he was a priest. Father Keating will remain on leave until the archdiocesan Clergy Review Board can complete an internal review of this matter, which is still ongoing.
The assessment by the Clergy Review Board will be comprehensive and include a revisit of decisions made in the past, in light of any new information that is produced as a result of the civil lawsuit and the archdiocese's prevailing commitment of placing victims first."