A Crookston priest who recently was placed on administrative leave previously faced disciplinary action when allegations of sexual assault surfaced.
A press release from the Crookston Diocese dated Feb. 23 said Father Patrick Sullivan was placed on administrative leave after a report of "boundary issues."
Communications Director Janelle Gergen said the diocese would consider 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 said the incident involved a minor but was not criminal or sexual.
Sullivan was placed on administrative leave in 2016 after a civil lawsuit was filed alleging he sexually abused a 15-year-old boy while working at the St. Mary's Mission Church in Red Lake, Minn., during 2008.
A 2017 press release from Bishop Michael Hoeppner said the claims were investigated by a diocesan review board and deemed "not credible." No criminal charges were pursued by law enforcement and Sullivan denied the allegation, the release said.
He was reinstated into the clergy Dec. 23, 2017 and resumed his position as pastor at St. Andrew's Parish in Hawley, Minn., and St. Elizabeth's Parish in Dilworth, Minn. The civil litigation was still pending.
A press release from Jeff Anderson, attorney of the alleged victim, referred to only as Doe 457, condemned the bishop's decision. He said at the time that Sullivan's reinstatement was reckless and endangered children in the community.
The case was dismissed in December 2018. Messages to Gergen and Anderson were not returned by the time of the Herald's publication.
Several other allegations of misconduct have arisen in recent years involving the Crookston Diocese.
After the Minnesota Child Victims Act passed and opened a three-year window for child victims to come forward after the statute of limitations had passed to open civil cases, a statement from Hoeppner said 14 claims were filed involving five priests, three who belonged to the Crookston Diocese and two who had worked within their churches. All but one of the priests was deceased, the 2016 release said.
Ronald Vasek sued the church and Hoeppner in 2017. The lawsuit has been partially settled, but some litigation is still pending. Vasek alleged Hoeppner sought to silence him after he reported sexual abuse by Msgr. Roger Grundhaus.
A statement from Hoeppner in September 2017 stated two deceased priests were added to a list of men "likely to have offended against minors."
A search of civil cases showed seven personal injury lawsuits had been filed against the Crookston Diocese since 2009.
Gergen said Sullivan's most recent administrative leave did not involve any sexual or criminal action and he will undergo an assessment from the church's review board. He then may receive in-patient treatment at a multi-disciplinary center that focuses on treating members of the clergy.
A priest who has been placed on administrative leave would undergo another formal assessment by the board and would ultimately need to be approved for readmission into the clergy by the bishop. Gergen said it's unclear how long an assessment or potential treatment process may take for Sullivan.