Lockeford Priest Remains Steadfast in His Rejection of Sex Assault Allegations

By Ross Farrow
Modesto Bee
March 22, 2012

Father Michael Kelly continued to deny allegations that he sexually assaulted anyone while spending almost two more hours on the witness stand Wednesday.

Attorney John Manly represents a 37-year-old man suing Kelly on allegations that the Lockeford priest sexually assaulted him when the plaintiff was an altar boy in the 1980s.

Manly named several people from the 1970s and '80s, asking Kelly if he had touched any of them on or near the groin.

Kelly, testifying for a second day, vehemently denied that he touched anyone inappropriately.

Several previous witnesses testified that Kelly had touched, fondled or brushed children in the groin.

The plaintiff previously testified during the civil trial that Kelly sexually assaulted him on a trail outside Stockton in the 1980s, took him to a motel room in Stockton and engaged in questionable activity in Kelly's living quarters.

The plaintiff testified last week that Kelly once invited the boy into his living quarters one afternoon when school was in session. The plaintiff said that Kelly took his clothes off, but added that he fell asleep and was clothed when he woke up.

A short time later in the 1980s, Kelly is alleged to have taken the boy to a Stockton motel, where the boy fell asleep in a motel room. They were both naked when he woke up, the plaintiff testified last week.

'I absolutely deny it'

"At any time did you get under a blanket with (the plaintiff)?" Manly asked Kelly on Wednesday.

"Of course not," Kelly retorted.

"Did you ever take him into the bathroom to disrobe?" Manly asked.

"I absolutely deny it," Kelly replied.

Later, Manly asked "Did you ever take (the plaintiff) on a hike?"

"I did not," Kelly replied.

The plaintiff's name is not being disclosed by court order because he is a potential sexual assault victim. Kelly has never been criminally charged regarding the allegations.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place when the plaintiff attended Church of the Annunciation in Stockton and attended the church's parochial school in the 1980s. Kelly was a priest at the same church at the time. He has been pastor at St. Joachim's Catholic Church in Lockeford for the past eight years.

Bishop testifies about denials

Wednesday afternoon, Stockton Diocese Bishop Stephen Blaire testified about his professional background and that he learned about the allegations against Kelly in September 2007, when the plaintiff's father talked to Blaire and other diocese officials.

Blaire testified that he met with Kelly after learning about the initial allegations from the plaintiff's father. Blaire said the first thing Kelly told him was, "I did not do this. I categorically deny doing it."

Blaire placed Kelly on administrative leave after learning of the allegations while diocesan officials conducted an investigation. Kelly was reinstated at St. Joachim's in March 2008 after Blaire reported that there was no evidence to support the allegations.

The trial will continue at 10 a.m. Thursday at San Joaquin County Superior Court, 222 E. Weber Ave., Department 42, fourth floor, Stockton.








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