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Former Lockeford priest Michael Kelly could face 14 years in prison

Calaveras County seeks his return to U.S.; priest denies sex charges involving a child

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Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:00 am

The Rev. Michael Kelly, a former Lockeford priest, faces up to 14 years in prison if he’s convicted of the charges included in a Calaveras County criminal grand jury indictment presented Monday to Superior Court Judge John E. Martin. The indictment includes three counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a child and one count of oral copulation with a child.

These are the first criminal charges against Kelly, a longtime Stockton Diocese priest who returned to his native Ireland in April 2012 after he was found liable in a civil lawsuit of sexually abusing Travis Trotter. The diocese settled that lawsuit with the largest single award in diocesan history — $3.75 million.

A news release said the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office will work with the Office of International Affairs in Washington, D.C., to extradite Kelly from Ireland. Deputy District Attorney Dana Pfeil said it’s a lengthy process, but the indictment means the statute of limitations won’t expire, “so that we will be able to pursue justice for the victim when Kelly is caught and returned to Calaveras County, no matter how long it takes.”

Kelly responded to the indictment in an email to The Bee: “I can categorically state to you, and to anyone else, that these allegations are totally and completely false. They absolutely never happened.”

Kelly served as the pastor of St. Joachim Catholic Church in Lockeford from 2004 until he was removed as a priest on April 6, 2012, after he was found liable in the Trotter suit.

Calaveras authorities would not comment further, but the case is likely that of an unidentified 22-year-old man who claimed in a lawsuit filed in 2011 that Kelly abused him as a 10- to 11-year-old altar boy at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in San Andreas. The complainant is represented by John Manly, a Southern California attorney who also represented Trotter and a third man, whose lawsuit claims abuse by Kelly at St. Thomas Aquinas, a Mokelumne Hill church.

“I think I can speak on behalf of my team and the clients: This (indictment) is more important than anything that has happened,” Manly said Tuesday. “Most of our clients want more than anything for the perpetrators to receive justice, to be in (jail) where they can’t do this to any other child. I’m absolutely certain that Father Kelly is around children today. I’m grateful to the DA’s office, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office and the grand jury to do the right thing here.”

Manly’s office has been credited with previously tracking down another Stockton Diocese priest, Oliver O’Grady, who was deported to his native Ireland in 2000 after serving a prison sentence for molesting three children. O’Grady, who served at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Lodi in the 1970s, was defrocked and has since confessed to molesting more than 20 children. He was sentenced in 2012 in Ireland to three years in jail for possession of large amounts of child pornography.

When asked if his office would try to locate Kelly, Manly said, “Let’s just say, if I were Father Kelly, I’d be looking over my shoulder.”

Manly said he is sure Bishop Stephen Blaire, Monsignor Richard Ryan and other bishops in Ireland know where Kelly is living.

“They ought to send his location to the Calaveras DA’s office right now,” he said.

Sister Terry Davis, spokeswoman for the Stockton Diocese, said the bishop “does not know” where Kelly is. In fact, she said, “For over two years, we’ve been cooperating with the Calaveras authorities. We’ve handed over anything they’ve needed. We’ll continue to do so.”

In an email to The Bee, Friends of Father Kelly, a loose-knit group of Kelly supporters, said it is “shocked and saddened to hear of the Calaveras County grand jury indictment of Michael Kelly. While we continue to stand by our friend, our group of over 1,200 supporters believe in the criminal justice system. We hope for a fair trial and a favorable outcome. As always, all victims of abuse are in our prayers.”

Contact Modesto Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki at snowicki@modbee.com.

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  • Steve Golay posted at 12:27 pm on Wed, Jan 15, 2014.

    Cadavera Vero Innumera Posts: 43

    That is, the "infamous" Manley, Esq., of Newport Beach.

    For the issue of "recovered memory" see the edited volume by Noblitt &Noblitt, "Ritual Abuse in the Twenty-First Century: Psychological, Forensic, Social, and Political Considerations".

  • Steve Golay posted at 12:19 pm on Wed, Jan 15, 2014.

    Cadavera Vero Innumera Posts: 43


    Ditto. The law, in justice, levels all. Special aggravation / aggrieved dircumstances applied where the defendant held position of responsibility.

    My point, cases such of these are difficult to bring to the threshold of criminal prosecution. The testimony of the young man must be such that defense counsel will find it difficult, in the mind of a jury, for instance, to discredit.

    The "infamous" has maintained that the Calaveras cases are not "contaminated" with the issue of so-called "recovered memory". Regarding that, more later.



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