Stockton Diocese Hit Again with Abuse Allegation

By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
The Record
September 12, 2012

STOCKTON - A 24-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Stockton alleging that, when he was an altar boy, he was sexually abused by former priest Michael Kelly.

The plaintiff, identified in court documents as John CC Doe, said he was molested by Kelly in the early 2000s when he was 12 years old.

He served as an altar boy at St. Andrew's Parish in San Andreas.

The suit comes five months after the diocese settled another lawsuit naming Kelly as the abuser for $3.75 million.

Church leaders settled the case with former Cathedral of the Annunciation altar boy Travis Trotter weeks into trial after Kelly suddenly departed to Ireland two days before he was scheduled to testify a second time.

The same law firm that represented Trotter, Newport Beach-based Manly and Stewart, is representing John CC Doe.

"Father Michael Kelly was known by the Diocese of Stockton to have allegations of sexual misconduct with minors lodged against him in the past," said Vince Finaldi, an attorney at Manly and Stewart. "They ignored their statutory duty to report his crimes to law enforcement and placed him in a position of trust and authority as pastor of St. Andrew Parish.

"There he used his position to sexually assault my client, who was 12 years old at the time of his abuse."

John CC Doe is suing the diocese, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Monsignor Richard Ryan and Kelly. He is asking for damages alleging sexual battery, fraud and intentional affliction of emotional distress, and he is seeking punitive damages.

The plaintiff's attorneys noted there had been multiple complaints to the church about Kelly's behavior with children.

He had been sent to a behavioral health facility for a psychological evaluation, counseling and treatment, a fact that was confirmed by church officials during Kelly's earlier trial.

During that stay, a psychologist couldn't rule out the possibility there was some underlying or latent pedophilic elements in Kelly's case.

The psychologist recommended Kelly not minister to children or families with children alone, and that he undergo psychotherapy.

John CC Doe's complaint alleges the diocese ignored the warnings.

Sister Terry Davis, a diocese spokeswoman, said she hadn't learned about the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon, and referred questions to attorney Paul N. Balestracci of Neumiller & Beardslee in Stockton.

Balestracci could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

Kelly also could not be reached for this story, but in the past, he has maintained his innocence, and he claims he left the country for health reasons.

Kelly is still under investigation by the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office in other child sex abuse claims.

Finaldi plans to hold a media conference today to formally announce that John CC Doe's civil lawsuit has been filed at San Joaquin County Superior Court.



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