Former Diocese Priest Indicted
January 14, 2014
SAN ANDREAS - A criminal grand jury in Calaveras County has indicted defrocked Stockton Diocese Catholic priest Michael Eugene Kelly on several child molestation counts, and the district attorney has vowed to work with federal authorities to return him from his native Ireland to face the charges.
In a statement issued Monday, District Attorney Barbara Yook noted that the indictment was presented to Calaveras County Superior Court Judge John Martin, who issued an arrest warrant for Kelly in the amount of $175,000.
Kelly faces three counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a child and one count of oral copulation with a child, according to the statement, and if convicted on all counts could be sentenced to a maximum of 14 years in prison.
Deputy District Attorney Dana Pfeil presented evidence to the criminal grand jury based on a Sheriff's Office investigation. The indictment alleges that Kelly began molesting his victim when the victim was 10 years old.
Yook's statement indicates the District Attorney's Office will work with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs to extradite Kelly from Ireland to Calaveras County.
"Locating and extraditing Kelly could be a lengthy process. However, the indictment handed down by the grand jury (postpones) the statute of limitations so that we will be able to pursue justice for the victim when Kelly is caught and returned to Calaveras County no matter how long it takes," Pfeil said in the statement.
Kelly was a former pastor of St. Joachim's Church in Lockeford and abruptly left for Ireland during the middle of a civil trial during which a former altar server claimed Kelly raped him. That victim, later identified as Travis Trotter, won a $3.75 million settlement from the Stockton Diocese.
In September 2012, a then-24-year-old man filed suit claiming Kelly sexually assaulted him in the early 2000s at St. Andrew's Parish in San Andreas when he was a 12-year-old altar server.
And in early 2013, a third alleged victim of Kelly's stepped forward to state he also was molested by Kelly in the early 2000s at St. Andrew's.
In June, Bishop Stephen Blaire, leader of the Stockton Diocese, said the church would pay $875,000 to Trotter with the rest coming from insurance.
"It is our hope that this settlement will help the victim continue to find healing for the suffering he endured," Blaire said at the time. "We have tried to find resolutions to these cases that will provide some measure of solace for victims. We continue to follow strict measures to ensure that we are protecting the young and the vulnerable."
In an earlier case of sexual abuse within the Stockton Diocese, defrocked priest Oliver O'Grady admitted to sexually abusing 25 children, sparking a litany of legal claims against the diocese after he was criminally convicted in 1993 for molesting two Turlock brothers.
O'Grady served time in prison and was deported to Ireland, where he was later convicted and imprisoned again for possessing child pornography. His case was the subject of an award-winning documentary, "Deliver Us From Evil."