Tape Says Kelley Confided in Medeiros

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
August 15, 2003

Worcester — The Rev. Robert E. Kelley, who pleaded guilty yesterday to child rape charges of two girls, said he told the late Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros of his affinity for young girls in the early 1970s but no action was taken.

The revelation was made by Rev. Kelley to the Massachusetts State Police in 1989, which included the information on its report when Rev. Kelley was arrested in connection with his sexual abuse of a Gardner girl.A copy of that report was shown on a 1992 production of "Sins of the Fathers," shown on the cable network A&E as part of the Investigative Reports series.

Recently, someone connected to a clergy sexual abuse victim gave a videotape of "Sins of the Father" to Mary T. Jean of Worcester Voice, an advocacy group for victims of clergy abuse in the Catholic Worcester diocese.

"I was shocked," Mrs. Jean said yesterday. "The cardinal clearly knew about Father Kelley's problem with girls and he did nothing to report it."

Mrs. Jean, who operates a Web site at, said this person, whom she declined to name, had the tape and contacted her because of the Web site.

The report on the tape said Rev. Kelley told state police: "I did confide in another priest and Cardinal Medeiros. Cardinal Medeiros told me not to go near little girls. I made it stop with Jennifer. I realized I had to stop. I continued to go over the house."

"Jennifer" referred to Jennifer Kraskouskas of Gardner, who filed a civil suit in the 1990s.

Rev. Kelley was put on leave by the late Worcester Diocese Bishop Timothy J. Harrington in the late 1980s and sent to the House of Affirmation in St. Louis for treatment. According to the A&E program, he worked as a photographer when he returned to Worcester.

The program also states that no action was taken by the cardinal, who headed the Boston archdiocese, to report what Rev. Kelley told him.

Mrs. Jean has attempted to get a copy of that report from Massachusetts State Police, but the record has not turned up. The report was prepared by Lt. Marian McGovern, she said. Mrs. Jean said she believes state police are being cooperative and the document eventually will be found.

His admission to Cardinal Medeiros differs from testimony Rev. Kelley made under oath in a deposition taken by Fitchburg lawyer Robert Rice in connection with the civil suit by Ms. Kraskouskas.

Rev. Kelley served a 5- to 7-year prison term after pleading guilty to sexually abusing her starting when she was 8 years old when he was serving at Sacred Heart parish in Gardner. She later settled her suit with the diocese for an undisclosed amount of money.

In the deposition for the suit, Rev. Kelley was asked by Mr. Rice whether he ever met with Cardinal Medeiros. The priest replied that he knew the cardinal well and lost "my best and closest friend" with the cardinal's death after going to Sacred Heart in 1983.

He said he met about twice a year with the cardinal from 1972 to the cardinal's death in 1983.

Rev. Kelley was asked by the lawyer why he wanted to meet with the cardinal. "Because I sensed a very deep holiness in the man," he answered.

"Did you ever discuss with Cardinal Medeiros the sexual touching with which you had engaged with young girls?" he was asked. "That would have ruined me politically. No," Rev. Kelley replied in the deposition.

He was asked whether he ever discussed this with him from a spiritual standpoint. "No. It would have ruined any attempt at my moving forward," he replied.

Rev. Kelley said he did not know what the cardinal would have done but he had heard stories that the cardinal would sometimes boot people down the steps.

"I didn't want to be a rear end down his back steps. That would have been suicide," he said.

Mrs. Jean wrote to Lt. McGovern asking for more information on her report but the record has not shown up.

Mrs. Jean later sent a letter to the office of District Attorney John J. Conte suggesting that Lt. McGovern told her the document might be in the Worcester courthouse or in a case file. "The TV show states they did receive a copy of this document," Mrs. Jean said.

Kathleen A. Shaw can be reached by e-mail at


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