Former Boys Town Priest Denies Abuse Accusations

Associated Press
February 25, 2003

A former Boys Town priest at the center of sexual abuse allegations has denied any wrongdoing and said he was considering a lawsuit to clear his name.

The Rev. James Kelly is not named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed Jan. 30 against Boys Town by former resident James Duffy.

However, Duffy alleges in his lawsuit against the famous home for troubled youth that Kelly and a counselor, the late Michael Wolf, repeatedly abused him in the late 1970s.

"Somebody said I should be proactive, and I'm thinking about it," Kelly said Monday about a defamation of character lawsuit.

Four other men have made allegations against Kelly and Wolf, the Omaha World-Herald reported Sunday. None has filed a lawsuit.

One of them, 35-year-old Wayne Garsky of Oakland, Calif., told The Associated Press on Monday night that he was at Boys Town in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"I was 12-years-old, dude, and I was put in a place I thought was safe and it wasn't safe," Garsky said.

He said Kelly came off as a nice man until he was in the confessional when Garsky said the priest touched him.

"I just want to get through this," Garsky said.

Fighting off tears, Garsky said he's been holding the secret inside for a long time, but doesn't know if he'll file a lawsuit.

"I definitely deny it," Kelly told The Associated Press of all allegations. "The stuff that is coming out now, they are coming out of the woodwork."

He wondered if the lawsuit and allegations were driven by finances, given the perceived deep pockets of Boys Town.

"That's an obvious thing to think," Kelly said. "But that's wrong, they have all their money tied up helping kids."

James Martin Davis, the attorney hired by Boys Town to lead an investigation into Duffy's allegations, said it will include the new claims even though they are not part of the lawsuit.

"I'm concerned with the validity of all these allegations," said Davis.

The Rev. Robert Hupp, who was Boys Town director in the late 1970s, has said he never received a negative report about Wolf and remembered Kelly as a disciplinarian who had the best interests of children at heart.

Both Wolf and Kelly left Boys Town in 1983, a year before Peter became director. The school's name was changed to Girls and Boys Town in 2000.

Kelly said Monday the allegations have destroyed his career.

He spoke from his home in Carson City, Nev., where he had been chaplain at three of the city's correctional facilities. The priest ordained in Albany, N.Y., was placed on administrative leave by the Catholic bishops of Nevada and New York after the lawsuit was filed.

"I lost my job, I had to retire from the prison system," the 70-year-old Kelly said. "I've been through a terrific amount of emotional suffering."

Kelly also was accused of sexual misconduct in 1983 and 1984 in New York, but two investigations by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany found the allegations not credible. However, the diocese did send Kelly to therapy and evaluation after the first investigation in the mid-1980s.

The lawsuit filed by Duffy, whose mother is a cousin to Peter, the Boys Town director, also names the Omaha Roman Catholic Archdiocese as a defendant.


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