11 to File Suit against Archdiocese Today
Priest Moved to Vandalia Amidst Concerns

By Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News [Cincinnati OH]
Downoaded September 5, 2003

When they placed the Rev. David Kelley at Vandalia's St. Christopher Catholic Church in 1984, officials of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati knew that parents at his previous post in Cincinnati had raised concerns that Kelley "liked to spend a lot of time with teenage boys," a spokesman for the archdiocese acknowledged Wednesday.

During his time at St. Christopher from 1984 to 1987, Kelley sexually abused at least two local boys a St. Christopher parishioner and his friend, according to Mason attorney Konrad Kircher. Kircher said he plans to file a lawsuit against the archdiocese today on behalf of 11 men from Cincinnati and Dayton who say they were abused by Kelley as boys.

"They (archdiocesan officials) shuffled him out of Cincinnati to Vandalia and, sure enough, he abused up there, too," Kircher said Wednesday. "St. Christopher parishioners have every right to be outraged that they had this guy dumped on them."

Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said Kelley is one of eight or nine area priests with substantiated histories of child sexual abuse whose cases will go before a mostly lay review board of the archdiocese this fall. The board will recommend to Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk whether the priests must be removed from the priesthood under the U.S. Catholic bishops' new "zero-tolerance" policy.

Archdiocesan officials in 1994 substantiated a complaint by a man who said Kelley fondled him as a boy in the 1970s. That man is not one of Kircher's clients. Kelley, who could not be reached for comment, is living on his own and has not had an assignment with the archdiocese since May 2002, when he left Mercy Anderson Hospital in Cincinnati.

Officials had serious concerns about Kelley long before the 1994 complaint.

Andriacco said archdiocese officials knew in 1983 of general concerns that Kelley spent too much time with boys.

Then in 1987, while he was an associate pastor at St. Christopher, Kelley spent time in a New Mexico treatment center for sexually abusive priests after the pastor of St. Christopher told archdiocesan officials he was concerned about Kelley's behavior with teen boys, Andriacco said. He said Kelley was evaluated for treatment at the Servants of the Paraclete treatment center in summer 1986 and was an inpatient in 1987. Kelley didn't return to St. Christopher after treatment.

"The (pastor) at the time was making it explicitly clear he was not accusing Father Kelley of immoral conduct, but he had concerns," Andriacco said. He said archdiocesan officials had made the St. Christopher pastor aware of earlier concerns about Kelley in Cincinnati.

Kircher said two of his clients, the St. Christopher parishioner and his friend, were abused by Kelley in late 1986 and early 1987.

In addition to the sex-related therapy in New Mexico, Andriacco said, Kelley has been treated "several times" for alcoholism.

A native of Cincinnati, Kelley was ordained there in 1974 and served as associate pastor of several parishes while teaching religion at Elder High School.

Most of Kircher's clients say they were abused by Kelley when he was associate pastor of St. Therese the Little Flower parish in Mt. Airy from 1978 to 1982, the year Pilarczyk became archbishop. The parish has an elementary school most of Kelley's accusers were former pupils there and Kelley lived in the rectory.

According to Kircher, the parents of a teenage boy notified the pastor of the Little Flower church in 1983 that their son was abused by Kelley in 1981.

Andriacco said Kelley's personnel file contains no record that archdiocesan officials were notified of that incident. The following year, Kelley was transferred to St. Christopher.

Following his treatment in New Mexico, Kelley studied clinical pastoral education at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. In 1989, he became a chaplain at Mercy Anderson Hospital in Cincinnati.

After Kelley left the hospital last year, officials felt "it would not be a good idea in the current environment of concern (about sexually abusive priests) to give him another ministry," Andriacco said.

Kris Ward, co-founder of the Dayton chapter of the lay reform group the Voice of the Faithful, said it's taken the archdiocese much too long to take action against priests like Kelley.

"How many victims will it take before quick action is taken so more children don't suffer?" she said.

Contact Tom Beyerlein at 225-2264.


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