Lockeford Priest Reinstated after Abuse Allegations

The Record
March 14, 2008

STOCKTON The Diocese of Stockton has restored Lockeford priest Father Michael Kelly to active ministry after completing an investigation of an allegation of sexual abuse.

The diocese placed Kelly on administrative leave in October 2007 after a then-33-year-old man claimed he was sexually abused by the priest sometime between 1984 and 1986. Kelly had been serving as the priest at St. Joachim's Church in Lockeford.

The diocese reported it used a professional investigator to examine the facts of the case and had some difficulty when the claimant declined to speak to officials. The investigation did not find any evidence of sexual abuse on the part of Kelly, Bishop Stephen Blaire said in a press release.

"After discussing the matter carefully with the Diocesan Review Board, I have made the decision to restore Father Kelly to active priestly ministry in the Diocese," Blaire wrote in the release. "I received hundreds of letters in support of Father Kelly, most of them quite anxious that he be returned quickly to ministry. However it was necessary that a thorough investigation be undertaken. I thank everyone for their patience and prayers during this painful and difficult process."


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