Leominster Priest Jailed for Raping Girls in '80s

By Robin Washington
Boston Herald [Worcester MA]
October 2, 2003

WORCESTER - A priest who pleaded guilty in August to raping two young girls in a Leominster parish two decades ago was ordered yesterday to serve a 5- to 7-year prison term with the stipulation that he be placed immediately in protective custody.

The Rev. Robert Kelley, 61, who served six years in the 1990s for raping another girl, was also given 20 years probation by Superior Court Judge John McCann, who cited the prison murder of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan in urging protective custody. But he rejected a defense appeal that the priest serve his time in an alternative setting, calling Kelley "disingenuous" for stating in his previous trial he had forgotten the names of his other victims.

"He has not taken full responsibility for his actions," McCann said.

After hearing victims Heather Mackey and Diane Gallian tell of the lasting pain from his molestation, which began when they were 4 and 5 years old, the suspended priest and Back Bay flower shop owner apologized to them.

"The best I can offer is to say I'm truly sorry for being a stumbling block that robbed them of what I heard: innocence, life, happiness, their religion," said Kelley.

In her statement, Gallian said, "Father Kelley, I know I can say I have seen evil. And it's you."

Later, she said she believed his contrition was real.

"He looked as though he was listening to every word I said and I truly would like to believe that he is sorry," she said.

In a statement, Worcester Bishop Daniel P. Reilly offered prayers to the victims and Kelley's family.

But Mackey, who said she was forced to withdraw a civil suit because of the church's threat to countersue, blamed both Kelley and his supervisors for destroying her religion.

While expressing concerns for Kelley's safety in prison, she said she was satisfied with the sentence. "The main priority is that he doesn't have access to children," she said.


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