Church Audit Grows Wider

By Amanda Lehme
Cape Cod Times [Woods Hole MA]
Downloaded November 20, 2003

The investigation into the Rev. Bernard Kelly's financial mishandling of church funds may go beyond a tiny Woods Hole parish, a Fall River Diocese spokesman said yesterday.

The diocese will audit financial records from other parishes where Kelly worked if those records are available, spokesman John Kearns said.

"We are looking to see if that is feasible," Kearns said. "We have to see what kind of records are available."

Kelly worked at churches in Wellfleet, Hyannis, and Martha's Vineyard as far back as the 1960s.

The diocese and the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office are investigating records after Kelly admitted last Friday that there was a "misappropriation of funds" during his tenure at St. Joseph's.

Kelly, 70, has been tangled in the murder investigation of Jonathan Wessner.

Wessner was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by Paul Nolin, 39, a convicted child rapist whom Kelly befriended and employed at the church.

A judge compelled the priest to testify before the grand jury two weeks ago.

District Attorney Michael O'Keefe is seeking to indict Nolin, who pleaded innocent to the charges.

Nolin is being held without bail at the Barnstable House of Corrections.

The diocese began an audit of church finances after Kelly was suspended last month pending the outcome of the murder investigation.

But on Friday Kelly admitted through his attorney Francis O'Boy that there were "financial irregularities" during his tenure at St. Joseph's.

O'Boy said Kelly will repay any missing funds.

Kearns was not certain how long the audit would take.

Kelly and the Rev. Donald Turlick, another priest with ties to Nolin, are also expected to testify before the grand jury today in Barnstable Superior Court.

Turlick was Nolin's therapist while he was in a state program for the sexually dangerous.

Nolin moved to Turlick's Mashpee home when he was released from prison three years ago.

Nolin spent 18 years in jail for kidnapping and raping a 10-year-old Lowell boy in the 1980s.

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