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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Civil lawsuit proceeding against St. Paul priest

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news Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

ST. PAUL -  A woman identified only as Jane Doe 20 is suing a St. Paul priest and professor for alleged sexual abuse the victim says began when she was 13 years old.

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The civil lawsuit against Reverend Michael Keating of the University of St. Thomas accuses him of "unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact" with the woman between about 1997 and 2000.  Keating was a seminary student at the time. The woman's statement was read by a paralegal in a press conference at her lawyer's office.  Attorney Jeff Anderson says the woman confronted Keating in 2004 and filed a complaint with the Archdiocese in 2006.  She spoke before the Clergy Review Board, but Anderson says they found "insufficient evidence to support a finding of sexual abuse of a minor."  Keating began a voluntary leave of absence on Sunday.  Church officials have not commented on the allegations or Keating's leave.

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The American Farm Bureau Federation joined a coalition of more than 530 groups opposed to splitting the SNAP nutrition program from the farm bill. The nutrition title was ultimately reattached - but for three-years instead of five.  Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson -- the top Democrat on the House Ag. committee  --  says the move makes no sense and he worries that separating the two sets them on a path of no farm bill in the future.  The GOP wanted the bills separated to make it easier to cut SNAP -- or food stamp -- spending.  Peterson also says the Republican Leadership must be reasonable and leave the conference committee alone to do its work, and if that comes to pass he is confident they will be able to finish a five-year, comprehensive farm bill this year.

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A Minneapolis teenager has been sentenced to a year in prison for accidentally shooting his 2-month-old nephew last month.  The 17-year-old pled guilty to reckless discharge of a firearm.  Prosecutors say he was playing with a handgun at his brother's home, and although the baby's father told him not to have a loaded weapon around the baby he continue to do so.  The gun went off and the infant was hit near his right ear.  He was treated and released.

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MnDOT has $13-million dollars in grants available to Greater Minnesota cities under what is called the Transportation Alternatives Program.  TAP manager Chris Berrens says funding is aimed at projects for Safe Routes to Schools, pedestrian and bike facilities, historic preservation and scenic byways.  Berrens says a new federal law passed last year consolidated several old programs.  He encourages community leaders in Greater Minnesota to check out MnDOT's website to see which projects are eligible for TAP grants.  applicants must submit a letter of intent describing the components of their project by November 15th.  If the project qualifies, MnDOT will ask for a full grant application by February 1st. (www.dot.state.mn.us)

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Macy's Department store is breaking a long standing tradition and opening most of its stores on Thanksgiving for the first time.  Over the past few years, company officials say rivals have gotten a jump on the official start of the holiday shopping season by opening their doors increasingly earlier on Thanksgiving.  Macy's doors will open at 8 p.m. on that day. 

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Funeral services are this morning (11a.m.) in Crown for former U.S. Senator Rod Grams, who died last week at his family farm near Saint Francis after a long battle with cancer.  He was 65.  Accolades for Grams came from both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House last week.  Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said Grams was "a leader, he was an example, but most importantly he was my friend."  Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan called Grams a "wonderful public servant" who contributed much to the well-being of Minnesota and the nation.  Grams represented Minnesota's 6th District in the U.S. House from 1993 through '95.  He served a single term in the U.S. Senate after that, losing his re-election bid to Democrat Mark Dayton.  Before entering politics, Grams was lead news anchor on Channel 9 in the Twin Cities for nearly a decade.

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A Mayo Clinic expert says the federal government shutdown could have a major impact on this winter's flu season.  Infectious disease expert Doctor Gregory Poland says the CDC is largely out of commission and because the agency keeps track of influenza across the U.S., doctors are in the dark about current and potential outbreaks.  Poland says it could also have an impact on the development of vaccine for next winter.  He says state public health departments can look at what's happening in their state, but nobody can piece together what's happening across the nation.

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Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule takes effect today (10/15).  It's designed to help protect residential customers from having their heat turned off during cold winter months, but state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman says customers must call their utility provider to work out a payment arrangement.  Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule protects residents from having their primary heating source disconnected between mid-October and mid-April -- but, again, you must have a payment plan worked out with your utility company.

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Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's on-line voter registration system is under more fire from Republicans, who say he didn't ask the legislature's permission and they want an immediate hearing at the State Capitol.  Ritchie responds the legislature authorized use of electronic signatures in the year 2000 and made it a priority that all state transactions be available to citizens, whether they live in the metro area or elsewhere.  Republicans say they're also concerned about data security in Ritchie's system.  He responds it's much better than the current paper system.  This is the last day to pre-register on-line for the upcoming November 5th election.  Ritchie says they've had over 1,100 applications on the website.

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A White Bear Lake woman know as "the neighbor from hell"for harassing a neighborhood family for years will serve five years probation -- but it won't start until she finishes serving probation of a previous conviction.  Lori Christensen plans to appeal the sentence, as well as the judge's denial of a motion to withdraw a guilty plea.  Christensen pled guilty to violating a restraining order.  Christensen has three years left to serve on the original probation sentence, which involved the harassment of the same family.  In addition to the probation Christensen must also stay at least a mile away from the Hoffman's home and have no contact with them for five years. 

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A hearing early this (Tue) afternoon (1:30 pm) will decide where the 9-year-old boy that stowed away on a plane bound for Las Vegas will live and what sort of treatment he may receive.  The boy managed to sneak past Minneapolis -St. Paul International Airport security and board a Delta Air Lines flight alone, without a ticket. The 9-year-old cannot be charged with a crime because of his age.  Today's hearing could lead to the child's removal from the home or mandatory mental and behavioral help.  The parents have told Hennepin County that they're willing to work with social services on a plan to manage the boy's behavior.

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It's Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Minnesota.  Health officials say 740 Latino men, women and children have been diagnosed with HIV in Minnesota since 1982--and 158 have died.  Statewide, HIV rates are three times greater for Latinos than for whites.  Roy Nelson with the Minnesota Department of Health says that's due in part to a language barrier and lack of access to health care -- which could be due to underemployment, unemployment or lack of health insurance.  Nelson says a free testing clinic will be open today (TUE) at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul from 11am to 8pm. 

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