Third Child Sex Suit Aimed at Stockton Diocese
By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
November 8, 2012
- The Diocese of Stockton has been hit with a third child sex abuse lawsuit that names former priest Michael Kelly, who returned to Ireland in April in the middle of another sex abuse trial.
A 22-year-old Orange County man filed the latest civil lawsuit Wednesday, saying Kelly molested him in the early 2000s while the then-boy was a parishioner at Mokelumne Hill Church. Kelly served the small mission church after leaving St. Andrew's Church in San Andreas.
Identified as John MT Doe, the plaintiff is suing for damages claiming negligence, constructive fraud and sexual harassment, among others.
His attorneys say the diocese and its top leaders had a duty to disclose Kelly had previously been accused of sexual misconduct, and that they should have stopped him from ministering to children.
The diocese sent Kelly for a psychological evaluation in 1999, and a psychologist said in a report, according to the lawsuit: "I do not believe that we are able to rule out the possibility that some underlying or latent pedophilic elements may exist in this case."
The lawsuit states the plaintiff tried to commit suicide in 2011 as a result of the abuse.
Calaveras County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Chris Hewitt said his office also is conducting an investigation and has forwarded a report to prosecutors, but he could not verify whether the victim is John MT Doe.
"Because of the type of case it is, it has a strict rule of confidentiality on it," Hewitt said. "What I can tell you is that this Father Kelly allegedly molested the victim."
The plaintiff's attorney, John Manly, of Newport Beach-based Manly & Stewart, said it is the same case, but he is disappointed with the slow progress of the year-long criminal investigation.
Calaveras prosecutor Dana Pfeil said her office is awaiting the Sheriff's Office to conduct interviews with multiple other victims to complete the criminal report. Then, she said, the case can be evaluated for charging.
Pfeil said she could not offer other details, since it is a pending case.
Kelly is accused of molesting at least three boys, according to civil filings in San Joaquin County. One resulted in a $3.75 million settlement in April with abuse victim Travis Trotter, after Kelly abruptly left for Ireland before the civil trial could end. That same jury had unanimously found him personally liable before turning their attention to allegations against the diocese.
Another lawsuit was filed in September by a 24-year-old former St. Andrew's Church altar boy.
The diocese's attorney, Paul Balestracci of Stockton's Neumiller & Beardslee, said he could not comment on the newest case because he has not seen the lawsuit.
Contact reporter Jennie Rodriguez-Moore at (209) 943-8564 or firstname.lastname@example.org Visit her blog at recordnet.com/courtsblog.