After 25 Years, Man Charged with Molesting Stepchildren

By Jon Frank
The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)
March 19, 1998

Eugene Walter Kelly Jr. was a highly respected 60-year-old George Washington University education professor when a Virginia Beach detective knocked on the door of his residence in Alexandria in May. By the time the detective had finished questioning Kelly, his life had been turned upside down and his reputation was suddenly being challenged.

Kelly's two stepchildren from an earlier marriage, the detective said, claimed Kelly had sexually molested them 25 years earlier, when he was faculty member in Old Dominion University's Department of Education. The molestations allegedly occurred, the detective said, from 1972 through 1976, when Kelly was living in Virginia Beach with his then-wife and her two children. The most damning evidence against him, Kelly learned later, was a taped telephone conversation in 1996 between him and his ex-wife in which Kelly allegedly admitted to sexual acts involving his stepchildren, a boy and a girl. Kelly, a former Roman Catholic priest, was indicted in May by a Virginia Beach grand jury on four charges of crimes against nature, one charge of taking indecent liberties with children and one charge of carnal knowledge. The stepdaughter was 12 and the stepson was 14 when the molestations allegedly began. Kelly is scheduled to be tried on April 6. On Wednesday, Kelly's attorney, Andrew Sacks of Norfolk, challenged the indictment in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, claiming the charges amounted to "legal terrorism" because they were too old and therefore prejudicial toward Kelly. In his motion to have the charges dismissed, Sacks said that he knew of no other case where there was so long a delay between the alleged crimes and the official charges. During that delay, Sacks said, Kelly left his Virginia Beach life behind to start anew, with a new wife, a new family and a new career at the Washington university. "Suddenly, out of the blue comes this," Sacks said. "We are all being held hostage if some individual can come forward with (old) allegations and is able to get a forum (in court). There has got to be an end, and this is the case that breaks that line." Sacks said most states and the federal government have statutes of limitation that prevent individuals from bringing charges after a certain period of time. Circuit Judge A. Bonwill Shockley denied the motion and told Sacks that in Virginia, the General Assembly had determined that there should not be a statute of limitations on felonies. "I don't think I am today going to institute one when the General Assembly has seen fit not to," Shockley said. Shockley took under advisement another motion made by Sacks to suppress Kelly's statement to police. Prosecutor Bob Dautrich said the charges against Kelly, who is now 61, first came to light in August 1996 when Kelly's stepson spoke to the Virginia Beach Police Department about what he said happened 25 years ago. Dautrich said the stepson explained to police that he came forward after so long because he became concerned about the safety of his own children. The stepson claimed that Kelly had maintained a relationship with his former family and recently indicated an interest in getting to know the stepson's children. Soon after, the stepson's sister came forward with similar charges against Kelly. In November 1996, the mother of Kelly's stepchildren taped a telephone conversation she had with her ex-husband, during which they discussed the allegations, Dautrich said. The taped conversation, a transcript of which is part of the court documents, goes into explicit detail about what Kelly did with his 12-year-old stepdaughter during the early 1970s in Virginia Beach. At the time, Kelly's ex-wife noted during the telephone conversation that her daughter "was 12 years old when you started seducing her. That's a pedophile." "Yeah, well . . .," Kelly replied. During the conversation, Kelly says he had a "romantic kiss" with his stepdaughter and at least three incidents of intimate sexual contact. It stopped, Kelly said, when the girl "fairly quickly made it clear that that was not what she wanted to do." Kelly said on the tape he had proposed several sexual acts to his stepson and admitted committing three sexual acts when his stepson was asleep in their Virginia Beach home. "How did my thinking become so corrupt?" Kelly said at one point during the conversation. "They were evil, corrupt, terrible things to do." In the telephone conversation, he blames some of the acts on pornography, which he said interested him at the time. "It fogged my thinking," he said. Kelly, who was a Roman Catholic priest before he became a professor, has written numerous books. His most recent is titled: "Spirituality and Religion in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Diversity in Theory and Practice." According to Mike Freedman, a spokesman for George Washington University, Kelly joined the faculty in 1979 as dean of the university's School of Education and Human Development. Kelly now is a professor of counseling in the graduate school of education. "Professor Kelly is a respected member of the George Washington faculty who has served the university for 20 years," Freedman said.


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