Mendota priest resigns after new review of old 'boundary violation'

 Joseph Gallatin

1998 incident leads to new restrictions on Joseph Gallatin's ministry

The Rev. Joseph Gallatin recently stepped down from his position at the Church of St. Peter in Mendota, after Archbishop John Nienstedt placed restrictions on his ministry, due to a fresh analysis of a 1998 "boundary violation" involving a minor.

Gallatin has been on a leave of absence since December 2013, as the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been reviewing his clergy files, including a reported incident 16 years ago between the priest and a 17-year-old boy, according to Nienstedt's statement.

During a mission trip, Gallatin had allegedly rubbed the teen on his chest and abdomen under his shirt, because the boy was snoring, according to the statement. The teen apparently told chaperones about the incident.

A clergy review board examined the allegations. The board includes parents and victims of sexual abuse, as well as clergy and lay people with expertise in sexual abuse, health care, mental health, law and education.

The board decided Gallatin needed further evaluation, therapy and monitoring.

According to the statement released June 22, Gallatin has agreed to all of the requirements since the incident, and the archdiocese hasn't received any "other allegations of inappropriate behavior with a minor against Rev. Gallatin."

The clergy review board revisited the allegations, as part of a comprehensive file review, by an outside firm, of all clergy in active ministry.

Although the firm determined he didn't violate the law, law enforcement was informed of the incident, according to a church statement released Dec. 29. No charges were filed against the priest, Nienstedt's statement said.

The board decided Gallatin's actions didn't violate the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops's "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." A violation of that charter means a priest can no longer be in ministry at all as a priest.

But the board did find the incident "concerning enough" to recommend Gallatin continue the monitoring program, and said he could be a part of ministry -- as long as his responsibilities don't involve minors.

Following the restrictions, Gallatin resigned from his post at the Catholic church.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens informed parishioners of the 1998 incident, review processes and Gallatin's resignation last weekend. Cozzens made himself available to answer questions and listen to comments after Mass.

The church posted Nienstedt's statement and a recording of Cozzens's announcement on its website.

Gallatin shared a statement on the church's website that Sunday, June 22:

"I am truly sorry for the pain that this has caused the parish. I am grateful to God for the time I was able to spend here at St. Peter's, and to all of you for the ways you help to spread God's message of salvation."

He continued: "So many of you have been a great help to me during this difficult time, and that makes it especially hard to say goodbye.

"I will always pray for the people of St. Peter's, even as I begin a new chapter in my life as a priest. I would appreciate it if you would keep me in your prayers to God as well."

Nienstedt said he would assign Gallatin to a new position, where he won't be at a parish or any setting involving minors.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and Follow her at


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