Civil Case Filed against Irish Ex-Priest for Sexual Abuse in US

By Genevieve Carbery
Irish Times
September 13, 2012

A FORMER altar boy has filed a civil case in the US against an Irish priest who, he claims, sexually abused him as a child in California.

The Californian man (24) claims that he was sexually abused and harassed by the now-defrocked Tipperary native Michael Kelly in the early 2000s from the age of 12.

Last April Michael Kelly was removed from ministry by the Californian Diocese of Stockton after a civil jury found against him in a separate civil case alleging sexual abuse in the 1980s.

Kelly, now in his 60s, denied the allegations. Last April, in the midst of the second part of a civil trial, he returned to Ireland.

The case was later settled by the diocese for $3.75 million (€2.83 million).

A separate lawsuit was filed in a Californian court on Tuesday by lawyers for a former altar boy named only as John CC Doe.

The civil complaint documents filed with the court said John CC Doe had been under Kelly's supervision in St Andrew's parish, San Andreas in northern California, when the alleged abuse took place.

It claims Kelly would travel to the boy's home unannounced and often when his parents were out and would "sexually abuse and harass" the boy in his bedroom.

The 45-page complaint document contains very graphic descriptions of the alleged sexual abuse.

It claims the alleged abuse caused "substantial emotional distress, anxiety, nervousness and fear" to the former altar boy.

The lawsuit is also against Kelly's former diocese of Stockton and two heads of the diocese, Bishop Steven Blaire and Msgr Richard Ryan.

It claims that the diocese breached their duty to the boy.

It alleges that the diocese knew about earlier allegations of child sexual abuse against Kelly in the 1970s but placed him in a "position of trust and authority", including supervision of altar boys.

It also claims that the diocese ignored a 1999 psychological evaluation recommending that Kelly would not administer to children alone.

It accuses the diocese of concealing allegations against Kelly to protect its reputation.

The lawsuit charges defendants with 10 counts including sexual battery, fraud and affliction of emotional distress.

A spokeswoman for the diocese of Stockton yesterday told The Irish Times that it had not received notification of the case.

Kelly's "last known residence was in Ireland", according to the complaint documents. It said he was ordained a priest for the Catholic Church in 1973.

In April Kelly told Bishop Blaire in a letter that he was travelling Ireland for health reasons and to be with his family.

He left during the second part of a civil trial in which he was a defendant.

The diocese subsequently settled the case for $3.75 million (€2.83 million) in what was one of the largest individual settlements in the history of US clerical sexual abuse scandals.


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.