David J. Kelley

Summary of Case: David J. Kelley is accused of abusing at least 38 boys during a career as a theology teacher, wrestling coach, parish priest, hospital chaplain, and counselor. When victims came forward in large numbers late in 2003, the archdiocese claimed to have no knowledge of Kelley's alleged abuses before 1994. But the archdiocese's own documents, obtained under court order by victims' attorney Konrad Kircher, showed that numerous allegations had been made to the archdiocese previously, including several as early as 1983. It also seems that these documents were among those examined by former prosecutor Dick Allen, who concluded a plea arrangement with the archdiocese that appears not to have taken the documents into account. The newly elected prosecutor promised to reexamine the investigation of the archdiocese. Archbishop Pilarczyk's claim that there were no allegations before 1994 prompted calls for his resignation, when his own documents appeared to demonstrate otherwise. Kelley died in 2009.

: 1974
Incardinated: Cincinnati archdiocese
Died: June 6, 2009


Start Stop Parish Town State Position Notes

[Bernardin had been archbishop since 1966. Pilarczyk became auiliary bishop and vicar general on 11/12/74.]
1974 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cincinnati
West Walnut Hills
OH 3/3. Pastor was Rev. Vincent P. Schneider, and the other priest was Rev. Theodore C. Kosse. Listed only in the 1974 Official Catholic Directory without middle initial. David Kelley is not listed in the 1973 or 1975 Directories.
1974 1976 St. Theresa's

Glenway and Overlook
OH 3/4, then 3/5, as associate pastor. Pastor was Rev. Msgr. William R. Boyle. Other priests were Revs. Myron Leshney, Donald Rettig, and (new in 1975) Lester A. Linz, S.J. School was staffed by 8 Sisters of Mercy and 21 lay teachers, and had 789 pupils in the 1975 Directory.

[Pilarczyk was appointed archbishop on 11/2/82 and was installed on 12/20/82]
Fall 1983 Elder High School
Inter-Parochial Archdiocesan High School for Boys

Vincent and Regina Aves.

• In Fall 1983, the archdiocese received at least 4 abuse complaints and Kelley was transferred from Elder to St. Christopher's. See 12/18/86 letter by Pilarczyk.

• Many other allegations were made in a 2003 lawsuit. See article.

OH Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, Prin.; Revs. Robert Buening, Thomas Fitzsimmons, Mark Gratsch, Timothy Kallaher, David Kelley, Thomas Kuhn, John Kummer, Anthony Muller, Donald Noll, Dale Peterka, Donald Rettig, Edward Rudemiler, Ralph Westerhoff, and Gary Witsken, according to the 1975 Directory. In subsequent years, the following are also listed: James Scherl, Paul Friedrichs, and Thomas R. Espelage. Kuhn replaced Strittmatter as principal in 1982. Strittmatter and Kuhn have both been accused of sexual abuse. In addition to the 15 priests, there were 15 lay teachers, and 1,650 pupils, according to the 1975 Directory. Kelley is listed at Elder in the 1984 Directory but not the 1985.
1976 1978 Resurrection of Our Lord Cincinnati
Price Hill
1744 Iliff Ave
OH 2/2, as associate pastor. Pastor was Rev. Edward J. Shine. Parish school was staffed by 1 priest (name unspecified) and 7 lay teachers, and had 162 pupils in the 1977 Directory.

1982 St. Therese, the Little Flower

Mt. Airy

• On 5/29/86, the chancery received from a priest an accusation that Kelley had abused a boy here. The priest was advised to steer the victim to a "skillful priest counsellor" instead of a professional counsellor (who might report Kelley to the "civil authorities").
OH 3/3, as resident associate. In the 1979 Directory, the pastor was Rev. J. Thomas Rolfes and the other priest was Rev. Thomas F. Feldhaus. In the 1980 Directory, the pastor has become Rev. John J. Mattscheck and the other priest was Rev. Timothy S. Bunch. Feldhaus has been accused of abuse (see below). The Parish school was staffed by 1 Sister of Charity and 19 lay teachers, and had 525 pupils in the 1979 Directory. Kelley's middle initial was dropped in that Directory.

[Pilarczyk was appointed archbishop on 11/2/82 and was installed on 12/20/82]
Fall 1983 Our Lady of Victory

Delhi Hills

• Kelley was transferred from Our Lady of Victory to St. Christopher's (70 miles north, on the other side of Dayton) in Fall 1983 after multiple accusations that he abused boys at Elder High (see above).
OH 3/3, as resident associate. The pastor was Lawrence R. Strittmatter, and the other priest was Thomas F. Feldhaus. Until the 1983 Directory, Strittmatter had been Kelley's principal at Elder High, and is also accused of abuse (see above). Feldhaus is accused of abusing a student at Our Lady of Victory School from 1986 to 1991.  
Fall 1983 1987 St. Christopher's


• Monnin, Kelley's pastor, asked in 1986 that Kelley be reassigned after multiple violations of the rule that boys not spend the night in the priests' rooms at the rectory. The last straw had been a high-school boy's overnight that occurred while Monnin was on vacation in TX.

At a 9/22/03 parish meeting, chancellor Binzer claimed that "there were no substantiated allegations made until 1994," although Kelley had been moved to St. Christopher's because of multiple accusations in 1983 at Elder High.

Four men filed suit in 2003 alleging abuse by Kelley at St. Christopher's.
OH 2/3, then 2/2, as full-time associate pastor. Pastor was Robert J. Monnin, and the other priest (into 1984) was Rev. Arthur Calkens of the New Orleans archdiocese.

Monnin had visited Kelley in a month-long alcohol treatment program at Bethesda Base Hospital in Cincinnati after Kelley was arrested for drunk driving on 4/27/84.
The K-8 parish school had 11 lay teachers and 223 students in the 1984 Directory.
1987 1987 Sacred Heart of Jesus Fairfield OH 3/3. Pastor was Rev. John E. Wall. Other priest was Rev. Harold W. Kist. This assignment is listed in the archdiocese's statement in Fall 2003, but does not appear in the Directory.
1987 1987 Foundation House
Servants of the Paraclete

Jemez Springs

• See Pilarczyk's letter thanking the Paracletes for taking Kelley and describing his history.
NM Very Rev. Liam Hoare, S.P. was the Servant General and Director of Foundation House. Other Foundation House staff were Revs. Warren Discon, C.M., Raymond Mann, O.F.M., Edward A. Bumbera, S.P., and Stephen Leehy. Kelley is not listed in the 1988 Directory.
1987 1989 Miami Valley Hospital

Dayton OH Studied clinical pastoral education. This training does not appear in the Directory, but is referenced in the archdiocese's statement in Fall 2003.
1988 1989 Corpus Christi Dayton OH 2/3. Pastor was Rev. Michael A. Noonan. In residence with Kelley was Rev. James Cantwell, O.F.M. Parish school was staffed by a Sister of Charity and a Sister of the Precious Blood and by 9 lay teachers, and had 255 students in the 1989 Directory.
1989 2002 Mercy Hospital Anderson


• In 1993, Rev. Thomas L. Bolte again reported to the priest personnel office an allegation that Kelley had sexually abused a teenager, this time while working as a hospital chaplain and living unsupervised in an apartment.
OH Chaplain. Sr. Miriam Krusling, R.S.M., local coordinator, followed by Sr. Kathy Green in 1991, and Sr. Suzanne Brennan, C.S.C. in 1992. The 1996 Directory, lists Karen S. Ehrat as president and Sr. Kathy Green, R.S.M. as vice president. Mr. Fred L. Kolb became president in 1998. Patrica A. Schroer became president in 2001. Staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. In the 1990 Directory, the hospital had 186 beds, with 10,250 in-patients and 58,519 out-patients.
1989 2002 St. Veronica's

Mount Carmel OH   Kelley reportedly said Mass here during his chaplaincy at Mercy Hospital.
1989 2002 St. Andrew's

Milford     Kelley reportedly said Mass here during his chaplaincy at Mercy Hospital
2002 8/03 Northland Intervention Center

Amelia OH Counselor Kelley reportedly counseled teenagers here during his chaplaincy at Mercy Hospital.
2002 2003 c/o Priests' Personnel Office Cincinnati

• When suits were brought against Kelley in 2003, the archdiocese stated (through spokesman Andriacco, chancellor Binzer, and the archdiocesan PR office {1}{2}), that the first complaint about Kelley came to them in 1994, despite evidence that complaints had been made in 1983 (by parents and students at Elder), 1986 (by Revs. Bolte and Monnin), and 1993 (by Bolte again).
OH   Kelley is not listed in the index of the 2003 Directory, but a c/o address for Kelley, J. David is given in Cincinnati's "On Special and Archdiocesan Assignment" section.
12/2003 1/2005   Clarksville TN Counselor  
 1/2005  6/2009 Administrative Leave       Kelley died of lung cancer June 6, 2009, at age 60.

: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1974-2004); Laure Quinlivan, Archdiocese Documents, WCPO Cincinnati, February 3, 2005; Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Statement Released to Media Upon Inquiries, Fall 2003.

Archdiocesan Documents

Rev. Robert J. Monnin, who was Rev. David J. Kelley's pastor at St. Christopher's in Vandalia, writes to Kelley, explaining that he's asked that Kelley be reassigned, after Kelley's multiple violations of the rule that boys not spend the night in the priests' rooms at the rectory
May 6, 1986

Rev. Thomas L. Bolte reports to the chancery an accusation that David Kelley had abused a boy at St. Therese, and Bolte wonders whether there were other victims
May 29, 1986

Pilarczyk is advised to ask Bolte to steer the victim away from a professional counselor (who might report Kelley to the "civil authorities") and toward a priest
June 5, 1986

Pilarzcyk asks Bolte to steer the victim to a "skillful priest counsellor"
June 6, 1986

Archbishop Pilarczyk writes to the Servants of the Paraclete, thanking them for admitting David Kelley to their treatment center and describing the allegations against him, including several from 1983 when Kelley was teaching at Elder High School
December 18, 1986

Notes describing a meeting at St. Christopher's in Vandalia, during which chancellor Binzer claimed that "there were no substantiated allegations made [about Kelley] until 1994"
September 22, 2003

Bolte writes to the chancery to contest their claim that they learned about abuses by Kelley only in 1994 – Bolte had written to them in 1986 (see above) and again in 1993, that time to report an allegation that Kelley had abused a boy while working as a hospital chaplain
September 2003, marked as answered on October 1, 2003

Press release (sent after the chancery received and acknowledged Bolte's reminder) stating that "the Archdiocese did not receive reports that David Kelley had abused children before he was assigned to Vandalia"
October 21, 2003

Archdiocese summary of Kelley's career, stating that when he was sent for treatment in 1987, "there were no allegations of sexual contact with minors"
Fall 2003

Suspended Priest Dies, June 25, 2009  

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Kelley's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with accusations described in archdiocesan documents and reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report. We remind our readers that in the U.S. judicial system, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

A Note on Nomenclature: We use the term "assignment record," instead of the more common "service record," because "service" is not an appropriate word for the activities of an abusive priest. Dioceses are often less than forthcoming about the activities of retired priests, but when we can determine those activities, we list them in these assignment records, particularly if they involve ministry. Retired priests remain under obedience to their bishop, and even the activities of laicized priests should be a concern to the diocese.

This assignment record was last updated on March 31, 2021.