New Allegations Surface against Defrocked Priest

By James DeHaven
Calaveras Enterprise
July 10, 2012

Former San Andreas priest Michael Kelly faces renewed sex abuse allegations this week after Stockton attorney John Manly confirmed he will press ahead with litigation on behalf of several new clients.

An untold number of accusers have come forward to police and attorneys across three counties after a civil trial against Kelly ended in a $3.75 million verdict last April.

That trial saw Kelly barred from the ministry after the jury found him personally liable for abusing a former altar boy. A criminal case against Kelly was dismissed due to the statute of limitations.

Kelly, who maintains his innocence, fled to Ireland as the civil case was coming to an end, citing stress-related health issues for his departure just days before scheduled liability proceedings against his former diocese.

Manly said he was personally approached by nearly a dozen ex-parishioners and others in recent months, including two from Calaveras County.

He told the Enterprise he’ll be filing criminal complaints sometime in the next few weeks.

Calaveras County sheriff’s deputies were able to confirm an investigation into claims made by one of Manly’s clients who alleges Kelly abused him throughout the 1970s.

Sgt. Chris Hewitt said his case was one of many leads the department has been tracking- since allegations of abuse were first made public in January.

“There was a new victim that just came forward. We forwarded the case to the district attorney and they sent it back for further investigation,” Hewitt said Monday.

Both Hewitt and Manly referred to lag time in the investigation of Kelly cases. Each also suggested that Friends of Father Kelly, an advocacy group that helped fund Kelly’s flight to Ireland, was freighting an already lengthy legal process.

“(Investigations) is way backed-up. (Investigator Wade Whitney) is dealing with an officer-involved shooting while still trying to track down alleged Kelly victims and witnesses,” Hewitt said. “Friends of Father Kelly is just piling-on, emailing him, sending him letters, just hindering his investigation.”

Manly, who handled Kelly’s civil trial last spring, hopes a groundswell of new accusers will help grease the skids of a protracted extradition process that might take years to put Kelly before a criminal trial or grand jury.

“I know (District Attorney Barbara Yook) believes child protection is a No. 1 priority. We’re hoping they’ll do the right thing: extradite (Kelly) and get him charged,” Manly said.

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