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Lawyers argue over evidence in Michael Kelly trial

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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 6:52 pm | Updated: 6:29 am, Wed Feb 15, 2012.

Lawyers in the Michael Kelly sexual assault civil suit argued Tuesday whether the case of former Lodi priest and convicted pedophile Oliver O'Grady should be included as evidence.

During Tuesday's hearing on what evidence will be admissible in Kelly's civil trial, Stockton Diocese attorney Jim Goodman argued that O'Grady shouldn't be included in the Kelly trial. Goodman accused the plaintiff's attorney, John Manly, of trying to bring O'Grady's history into the case to strengthen Manly's case against Kelly.

Manly said that the Stockton Diocese's history of handling allegations against O'Grady and other priests who allegedly committed sexual abuse should be included in Kelly's trial to establish a pattern by diocese officials.

"Father Oliver O'Grady was a disgrace to the priesthood," Goodman said. "(O'Grady and Kelly) are two completely different individuals."

O'Grady, a priest at St. Anne's Catholic Church from 1971 through 1978, served seven years at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione after being convicted of sexually assaulting two boys. O'Grady was deported to his native Ireland in 2000 after his parole. He was sentenced again in January to three years in prison in Dublin for possessing child pornography.

Kelly, priest at St. Joachim's Catholic Church in Lockeford since 2004, is accused of sexually assaulting a boy between 1982 and 1985, when Kelly was a priest at Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton.

Kelly has never been charged criminally, but the plaintiff, whose identity has not been released, sued him civilly in 2008. The man, now in his 30s, claims that Kelly assaulted him when the plaintiff was between 7 and 11 years old.

Kelly strongly maintains that he is innocent of all allegations against him and is determined to prove it in court.

Superior Court Judge Bob McNatt is expected to make a ruling when court resumes at 9:30 a.m. today in Stockton.

Jury selection is expected to take place Thursday and Friday at San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton.

Opening arguments in the case against Kelly are tentatively scheduled for Feb. 22, according to Tom Beatty, Kelly's attorney. The jury trial is expected to last six weeks, Beatty said.

Tuesday's half-day hearing attracted about eight Kelly supporters, Tim Lennon, a volunteer from the group known as Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and a TV crew.

McNatt denied a request by KCRA-TV to film the trial inside the courtroom.

"There tends to be a certain amount of posturing (when TV cameras are rolling)," McNatt said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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