Diocese Places Priest on Leave
Reverend Denies Sex Abuse Charges

By Rick Brewer
Stockton Record
October 12, 2007

STOCKTON - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton announced Thursday it has placed a parish priest on administrative leave after allegations surfaced last week that a boy was sexually abused in the 1980s.

The Rev. Michael Kelly, 56, was placed on leave by Bishop Stephen Blaire this week while the matter is being investigated. A 33-year-old man said he was sexually abused by the priest sometime from 1984 to 1986. Kelly has been serving as the priest at St. Joachim's Church in Lockeford.

Father Michael Kelley at his Church in Lockford California.
Photo by David Finch/The Record

"He categorically and emphatically denies this ever took place," said Stockton attorney Albert Ellis, who is representing Kelly.

Kelly was a priest at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton during the time the alleged incident is said to have occurred.

"Father Kelly feels passionate that priests with good names need to stand up and fight these allegations," Ellis said.

According to diocese spokeswoman Sister Terry Davis, the Stockton Police Department has been notified as part of the diocese's policy. Davis said Blaire was unavailable for comment.

Ellis said this is the first time anyone has ever made such an accusation against Kelly.

In 2004, Blaire released a statement apologizing for the actions of 10 priests who accounted for 29 counts of sexual abuse since the diocese was founded in 1962.

In January, The Record reported three new civil lawsuits had been filed against the Diocese of Stockton accusing a deceased priest, the Rev. Murty Fahy, and the Rev. Oliver Francis O'Grady of sexual abuse involving several former students at a Lodi parochial school.

O'Grady was convicted in 1993 of molesting two brothers from August 1987 to July 1991. The case was settled for $7.5 million.

Contact reporter Rick Brewer at (209) 546-8294 or


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