Accused Priest Also in Kelly Will

By Sean Gonsalves
Cape Cod Times
November 22, 2003

FALMOUTH - The contested will of the Rev. Bernard Kelly, which for a time left a fortune in real estate to the suspect in a Falmouth murder, also makes provisions for a priest once accused by parishioners of sexual misconduct.

Kelly's will, a copy of which was obtained by the Times, leaves $10,000 to the Rev. Gilbert Simoes, who lives in Falmouth.

Simoes' name also appeared on a list made public by Bristol County District Attorney Paul F.Walsh Jr. last year, identifying 21 Fall River Diocese priests accused of sexual abuse.

According to the Bristol County District Attorney's office, Simoes was accused of sexually abusing six people.

The publication of the list was met with applause from clergy sex abuse survivor advocates, but sharply criticized by civil libertarians and then Fall River Diocese Bishop Sean O'Malley, who was recently installed as bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston.

"We took statements from six people. At least two were from the Cape," Bristol County District Attorney's office chief sex crimes investigator Thomas Carroll said yesterday.

Because the statute of limitations had expired, Carroll said they could not prosecute Simoes or most of the other priests on the list. Otherwise, Carroll said, "we would have given serious consideration to prosecuting him."

Repeated attempts to contact Simoes at his home in Falmouth yesterday were unsuccessful.

The revelation further tangles the thread of the ongoing investigation into the murder of Jonathan Wessner and the relationships among his accused killer, Paul Nolin, and two local priests.

Kelly, who had been pastor of St. Joseph's in Woods Hole since 1997, employed Nolin as a handyman at the church and, according to court documents, had a homosexual relationship with him.

In August, Kelly revised his will, naming Nolin to receive property in Cummaquid and Otis in Western Massachusetts. After Nolin was charged Oct. 2 in Wessner's killing, he was written out of the will, according to Kelly's lawyer, Francis O'Boy.

Kelly resigned from his post at St. Joseph's, effective Nov. 19, amid the allegations he had a sexual relationship with Nolin.

He is also embroiled in a church finance scandal, after having admitted to state police investigators that he misappropriated $50,000 in church funds for personal use. The Fall River Diocese has obtained a $100,000 lien against Kelly's property.

Meanwhile, the Catholic priest's brother, Douglas Kelly, filed a lawsuit against him on Thursday. The lawsuit lays claim to a portion of Bernard Kelly's $4 million estate.

According to court papers, Douglas Kelly filed the suit after he learned he had been written out of his brother's will in favor of Nolin. At the same time, Bernard Kelly designated $160,000 to various other people and causes.

Questions about Simoes

Fall River Diocese spokesman John Kearns said yesterday he would have to research Simoes' record to explain why Simoes is no longer a priest, or why Simoes was listed as being "on leave" in the official Catholic Directory for many years before his name was dropped in 2000.

Kearns said that the allegations against Simoes go back decades before he began working with the diocese and that his only recollection of Simoes is when his name was made public by Walsh's office a year ago.

According to several Times' sources, Simoes taught Portuguese at Falmouth High School until recently.

Yesterday, Falmouth Schools Supt. Peter Clark said he couldn't locate any staff records indicating when or if Simoes was a school employee. Clark said the school also offers night courses in Portuguese, but that night school records would not be available until Monday.

Simoes record as a priest includes assignments at: St. Michael's in Fall River from 1962 to 1965; Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New Bedford from 1966 to 1972; Santo Christo in Fall River from 1973 to 1982; St. John the Baptist in Westport from 1983 to 1986.

He was not listed in the Catholic Directory in 1987, but was listed as being on sick leave from 1988 to 1995. From 1996 to 1999, he was listed as "on leave" and that's when his name disappeared from the directory, according to research by Terry McKiernan, a Catholic sex abuse victim advocate, academic editor and operator of the Web site

The statue of limitations had expired in most of the cases publicized by Walsh last year. Only Donald Bowen is being prosecuted. Bowen had been living in Bolivia for the past 30 years and was therefore not subject to the statute of limitations.

Bowen has been indicted and now awaits a trial date in New Bedford Superior Court to face charges that he molested a 9-year-old girl over the course of several years in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Turlick's testimony

Meanwhile the office of Michael O'Keefe, the Cape and islands district attorney, said it will review grand jury testimony by the Rev. Donald Turlick as a routine check for possible perjury.

On Thursday, Turlick, testified that he did not have a sexual relationship with Nolin, his former patient, according to a source close to the case.

However, investigative sources have asserted the pair were more than just friends, as Nolin's lawyer claims.

Paula Erickson, who worked at the state's treatment center for the sexually dangerous in Bridgewater when Nolin was Turlick's patient there 12 years ago, said Turlick would bring Nolin contraband gifts.

The district attorney's office is also delving into financial dealings while serving at St. Joseph's

O'Keefe said the extent of the investigation, and whether it goes back as far as the 1960s when Kelly worked at other Cape churches, depends on the how good the financial records are.

He said investigators have already been in contact with lawyers employed by Kelly.


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