Dueling Experts Testify about Concept of ‘repressed Memory’ at Michael Kelly Trial

By Ross Farrow
Lodi News-Sentinel
March 24, 2012

Two experts testified on the concept of repressed memory Friday in the clergy sexual abuse civil case against Father Michael Kelly.

Dr. J. Alexander Bodkin, who began his testimony on Thursday, finished up on Friday. Bodkin is an associate professor at Harvard University's medical school. He said that there is no scientific proof that repressed memory is a valid concept.


The plaintiff claims that, due to repressed memory, he recalled in 2006 that Kelly sexually assaulted him more than 20 years earlier.

Later in the day, Dr. Anlee Kuo, a San Francisco psychiatrist who once examined the plaintiff, testified on the plaintiff's behalf that he suffers from depression and alcohol abuse due to Kelly's alleged sexual abuse.

The plaintiff is 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 at Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton. Kelly has been pastor of St. Joachim's Catholic Church in Lockeford the past eight years.

The plaintiff's wife is scheduled to testify when court resumes on Tuesday, according to defense attorney Tom Beatty. The plaintiff's identity is being withheld by court order because he is a potential sexual assault victim.

In other action, Judge Bob McNatt ruled that a pending criminal investigation in Calaveras County cannot be used as evidence in the civil trial against Kelly.

The Calaveras County Sheriff's Department is investigating a claim by a young man that Kelly sexually assaulted him from 2000 to 2002, when the man was 10 to 12 years old and attending St. Andrew's Parish in San Andreas.

"(The) court found that it was too prejudicial to Father Kelly," the plaintiff's attorney, John Manly, told the News-Sentinel in an email. "(McNatt) made no determination as to credibility of the victim one way or the other."

Beatty said that McNatt ruled that the Calaveras County investigation has no relevance to what the case is about — what Kelly is accused of doing in the mid-1980s.

Beatty predicts that closing arguments will be held on April 5, with the case going to the jury for deliberation the following day.

Court will not be in session Monday. Testimony will continue at 10 a.m. Tuesday at San Joaquin County Superior Court, 222 E. Weber Ave., Department 42, fourth floor, Stockton.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at








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