Father of Plaintiff Testifies Son Told Him of Sexual Assault by Kelly

By Ross Farrow
Lodi News-Sentinel
March 7, 2012

The father of a 37-year-old man suing Father Michael Kelly testified on Tuesday that his son told him that Kelly had sexually assaulted him.

The father, whose name is being withheld because his son was an alleged sexual assault victim, said that he was visiting his son in 2007. They were saying their goodbyes when the son blurted out, "I was (sexually assaulted) by Father Kelly," the man said.

However, the son drove away without elaborating, the father said, and calls to his son were not successful, he told a jury at San Joaquin County Superior Court. Due to statute of limitations laws, Kelly was never criminally charged.

Kelly has been pastor of St. Joachim's Catholic Church in Lockeford since 2004 and previously served at parishes in Stockton, Sonora, Tracy, Modesto and Ceres.

He faces a clergy sexual abuse civil lawsuit filed by the 37-year-old on allegations that Kelly sexually abused him several years ago. The plaintiff was an altar boy at Stockton's Cathedral of the Annunciation in the 1980s, when Kelly was a priest there.

Crying on the witness stand Tuesday, the plaintiff's father said, "I was just so sad and devastated. I was too naive to know what was going on."

Earlier in the day, the plaintiff's father testified about Kelly tickling and rubbing the plaintiff and his sister on the floor. The father said he tickled them very hard.

"I was upset," the plaintiff's father said. "I didn't stop it because I was intimidated by a priest."

Later, the plaintiff's father said, "I trusted the Catholic church 100 percent 110 percent."

Judge Bob McNatt adjourned proceedings Tuesday before the plaintiff's father could elaborate on his 2007 conversation with his son, and cross-examination won't begin until this morning.

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Testimony will resume at 10 a.m. today in San Joaquin County Superior Court, 222 E. Weber Ave., Department 42, Stockton.

The father of the plaintiff suing Father Michael Kelly for sexual abuse will be questioned by his son's attorney, Vince Finaldi, before being cross-examined by the defense.

After the plaintiff's father completes his testimony, the plaintiff's mother will take the stand. The plaintiff himself is scheduled to take the witness stand either this afternoon or Thursday.


San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Bob McNatt ruled last week that the plaintiff in the civil case against Father Michael Kelly can only be identified as John T.Z. Doe because he is a potential sexual assault victim.

Vince Finaldi, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, said after court adjourned for the day on Tuesday that state statutes and case law allow sexual assault plaintiffs to be anonymous. Disclosing victims' names would discourage people from reporting these kinds of incidents, Finaldi said.


The Calaveras County Sheriff's Department is investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct against Lockeford priest Michael Kelly.

A man who was 10 to 12 years old at the time reported to the Manly & Stewart law firm that Kelly sexually assaulted him from 2000 to 2002, when Kelly was a priest at St. Andrew's Parish in San Andreas. The law firm reported the allegation to Stockton Diocese Bishop Stephen Blaire, who then referred the matter to the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department.

Calaveras County Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Hewitt said on Tuesday that the investigation has not been completed.

Kelly previously stated he didn't commit any sexual misconduct in the Calaveras County case under investigation or the Stockton case that is currently being heard in civil court.



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