Rev. Michael E. Kelly

Summary of Case: Michael E. Kelly was born in Dublin, and raised in Tipperary in southern Ireland. He was ordained in Ireland June 9, 1973 and went directly to serve in Stockton, CA. He was removed from ministry in Sept. 2007, after an accusation surfaced that he had sexually abused a boy between 1984 and 1986. He was reinstated in March 2008, after the Diocesan Review Board could not substantiate the accusation. Another young man came forward in Sept. 2011 to accuse Kelly of having sexually abused him at age 10, between 2000-2002. The case became the focus of a criminal investigation. Kelly denied the allegations and was allowed to remain in active ministry. A civil trial related to the first accusation resulted in Kelly being held liable for child molestation April 7, 2012. He was removed from ministry, although he and the diocese maintained his innocence. Kelly fled to Ireland April 15, 2012, just before he was scheduled to testify in a second phase of the civil trial, which focused on the diocese's handling of his case. The diocese settled with Kelly's accuser. In a Sept. 2012 lawsuit, Kelly was accused of sexually abusing a 12 year-old altar boy in the early 2000s. In Nov. 2012, a third lawsuit was filed by a 22 year-old man who accused Kelly of sexual abuse, including sodomy, in 2000 when he was a 10 year-old altar boy.

Ordained
: 1973

   

Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes
1973

Stockton bishop was Merlin Joseph Guilfoyle (1969-1979)
1979 Our Lady of Fatima Modesto CA 2/3, 2/2, 3/3 Our Lady of Fatima had a school with 295-322 students.

mid-1970s

 

  Modesto Youth Soccer Association Modesto CA   Kelly helped organized this youth organization in the 1970s.

1979

Roger Michael Mahony succeeded Guilfoyle (1980-1985) followed by Donald William Montrose (1985-1999)

1984 St. Bernard's

Tracy

A Tracy man informed the diocese in the early 2000s that Kelly tickled and rough-housed him as a child in 1979. The man had a son in a Tracy parochial school in the early 2000s and asked the diocese to keep Kelly away from his young son.

CA 3/4, 2/3, 2/4 St. Bernard's had a school with 232-251 students.

1984

Donald William Montrose replaced Mahony (1985-1999)

1987 Cathedral of the Annunciation

Stockton

Kelly was accused in Oct. 2007 of having sexually abused a 10 to 12 year-old boy sometime between 1984 and 1986. The abuse is said to have occurred at the boy's home, while Kelly babysat the boy and his sister. In a lawsuit filed in 2008, Kelly is said to have rubbed to boy's back, shoulders, chest and stomach, tickled him in a sexual manner, talked with him about sex, walked in front of the boy naked, given the boy a bath, hugged him in a sexual way, and sexually abused and molested him. The abuse is said to have included sodomy. Kelly's accuser testified in 2012 that Kelly took him on a hike in a secluded area, made him kneel down and said, "when men love each other, this is what they do." He testified, too, that no matter how much he screamed, Kelly wouldn't stop. Kelly babysat for the family between 1982-1985, when the boy was 7 to 11 years old. The boy was an altar boy and student at Annunciation school. Kelly denied the allegations.

CA 3/4, 3/5

The Cathedral had a school with 266 students.

According to his attorney, Kelly's accuser was on active service in the military when the allegations were brought to the diocese. He'd had a successful career as a U.S. Air Force pilot, but had to step down because of severe depression caused by memories of the abuse.

This case went to civil trial in Feb. 2012. One witness, an Annunciation parishioner, testified that his family had invited Kelly to dinner in the 1980s, but they took him outside and asked him to leave after seeing him bouncing children on his lap. The witness said the priest was observed lying on his back and bouncing the children on his genital area. He said he told the monsignor about the incident a few weeks later. Another witness testified that when he was a boy, Kelly grabbed his thigh and touched him in the groin while having him do stretching exercises while he (the boy) was wearing Speedo swim trunks. This is said to have happened in the boy's bedroom.

1987 1997 St. Patrick's Sonora CA 1/1, 1/2 St. Patrick's had a religious education program with 218-250 students.
1987 1997 Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Big Oak CA   This was a mission of St. Patrick's in Sonora.
1987 1997 St. Anne's Columbia CA   This was a mission of St. Patrick's in Sonora.

1997

Montrose was replaced as Stockton bishop by Stephen Edward Blaire (1999-)

2000 Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Stockton CA 1/2 Presentation of the B.V.M. had a school with 305-307 students, and a religious education program with 730-
1,057 students.
Jan. 30, 2000 Sept. 4, 2000 Sick Leave      

In 1999 church documents show that parishioners had expressed unspecified concerns about Kelly, including the way he related to a four year-old child. Kelly asked for and was granted leave.

Kelly was sent for three psychiatric evaluations in the early 2000s, after a man reported to the diocese he's been "tickled and rough- housed" by Kelly as a child in 1979. The evaluations showed that Kelly had "pedophilic traits", but were inconclusive. The man asked the diocese to keep Kelly away from his young son who was in a Tracy parochial school.

Kelly was sent to St. John Vianney Center in Philadelphia, which is a mental health facility for priests and religious, and later to a Canadian facility for six months of treatment.

Sept. 2000 2002 St. Andrew's

San Andreas

Kelly was accused in a Sept. 2011 lawsuit of having sexually abused a 10 year-old boy between late 2000 and 2002. The boy was a St. Andrew's altar server. Kelly denied the allegations. A criminal investigation ensued.

Kelly was accused in a Sept. 2012 lawsuit of sexually abusing another St. Andrew's altar boy in the early 2000s. According to the lawsuit, Kelly would show up unannounced at the 12 year-old boy's home, often when his parents were not there, and molest him in his bedroom. The boy is said to have attempted suicide after the abuse.

CA 1/1 St. Andrew's had a religious education program with 149-138 students.
2000 2002 St. Thomas Aquinas

Mokelumne Hill

In a Nov. 2012 lawsuit Kelly was accused of sexually abusing a 10 year-old altar boy at this parish in 2000. The accusations include sodomy.

CA   This was a mission of St. Andrew's in San Andreas.
2000 2002 Our Lady of Fatima West Point CA   This was a mission of St. Andrew's in San Andreas.
Aug. 2002 Sept. 23, 2003 On Leave West Point CA   Kelly is not indexed, nor is he listed in the Stockton diocesan pages of the 2003 Directory.
2003? 2004? St. Jude's Ceres CA   Kelly is not listed as at St. Jude's in the 2004 Directory. In fact, he is not indexed or listed at all in the Stockton diocesan pages of the 2004 Directory.

This assignment is per news reports.
2004 2012 St. Joachim Lockeford CA 1/2, 1/1

St. Joachim's had a religious education program with 90-175 students.

Kelly was removed from active ministry in Sept. 2007 after an allegation surfaced that he had sexually abused a boy in the 1980s. Kelly denied the abuse and stated he'd gone on leave due to an ulcer.

Kelly was reinstated in March 2008 after the Diocesan Review Board could not substantiate the claim of child sexual abuse against him. At an April 2012 civil trial, it was revealed that the review board had discussed Kelly six or eight times prior to the 2007, due to complaints from parents about his behavior with children.

After a second young man surfaced in Sept. 2011 with claims that Kelly sexually abused him as a 10 year-old between 2000-2002, Kelly was allowed to remain in ministry.

2004 2012 Diocesan Personnel Board Stockton CA    
2010 2012 Dean of Deanery 3

Stockton CA    
2010 2012 Members at Large Stockton CA  

A civil trial in March 2012 resulted in Kelly being held liable for molesting the former Cathedral of the Annunciation altar boy who came forward with allegations in 2007. Kelly was removed from ministry after the verdict April 7, 2012. He continued to deny his guilt after the verdict, and vowed to "keep fighting". His parishioners rallied in support of him, calling him a "martyr".

Kelly fled to Ireland before a second phase of the civil trial was to begin, in which he was scheduled to testify regarding the diocese's handling of his case. He left a letter for Bishop Blaire.

The diocese settled with the victim April 20, 2012.

Another accuser filed suit in Sept. 2012.

In Nov. 2012 Kelly was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 10 year-old boy in the early 2000s. Kelly denied the accusations.

 

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1974-2011)

Lockeford Priest Accused of Abuse, Stockton Record, October 11, 2007
Lockeford Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, October 11, 2007
Priest Abuse Alleged, Tracy Press, October 11, 2007
Diocese Places Priest on Leave, Reverend Denies Sex Abuse Charges, By Rick Brewer, Stockton Record, October 12, 2007
Catholic Priest Placed on Leave, He Denies Allegation He Sexually Abused Boy in the Mid-1980s, By Michael G. Mooney, Modesto Bee, October 12, 2007
Stockton Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse, CBS13, October 12, 2007
Claim against Priest Spurned, Friends: Accusation of Sex Abuse Doesn't Fit Man They Know, By Sue Nowicki and Michael G. Mooney
Modesto Bee, October 13, 2007
Former Sonora Priest Denies Allegations of Molestation, By Lacey Peterson, Union Democrat, October 16, 2007
Questions Raised in Accusations against Former Priest, By Lacey Peterson, Union Democrat, October 31, 2007
Catholic Diocese Reinstates Priest Accused of Sex Abuse, Modesto Bee, March 14, 2008
San Joaquin County Priest Reinstated after Investigation into Allegation, By Daniel Thigpen, The Stockton Record, March 15, 2008
Stockton Diocese Says No Base for Abuse Allegation, Reinstates Priest, Diocese's Investigation of '84 Sexual Abuse Allegation Clears Lockeford Pastor, By Ken Carlson, Modesto Bee, March 15, 2008
" Painful and Difficult Process",Stockton Bishop Reinstates Priest after Diocesan Review Board Finds No Evidence to Support Claim of Sexual Abuse, California Catholic Daily, March 17, 2008
Abuse Lawsuit Targets Priest, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, April 1, 2008
Priest Denies Abuse Claim, Lockeford Cleric Subject of Newly Filed Lawsuit, By Alex Breitler, Stockton Record, April 1, 2008
Priest Will Fight Lawsuit, By Lacey Peterson, The Union Democrat, April 4, 2008
Popular Priest Facing Civil Trial in Molestation Suit, By Scott Smith, The Record, April 17, 2011
Diocese to Stand Trial in Civil Molestation Suit, The Record, April 20, 2011
New Accusations Arise against Lockeford Priest, News 10, September 27, 2011
Former Modesto Priest Accused of New Offense, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, September 29, 2011
Priest Hit with New Abuse Allegation, By Zachary K. Johnson, The Record, September 29, 2011
Lockeford Priest Faces Sex Abuse Accusation, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, September 28, 2011
Judge to Decide If Records in Sex Abuse Case Will Remain Sealed, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, November 22, 2011
Former Modesto Priest Finally Gets Day in Court, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, January 6, 2012
Trial Begins for Priest in Sex Abuse Lawsuit, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, February 13, 2012
Judge Broadens Scope of Priest Molest Trial, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, February 16, 2012
Judge: Sex-Abuse Trial Can Target Both Priest and Diocese, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, February 17, 2012
Civil Trial against Lockeford Priest Goes to Court, By Katie Nelson, Lodi News-Sentinel, February 25, 2012
Repressed Memories Focus of Priest Child Sex Abuse Trial, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, February 25, 2012
Witnesses Tell of Priest's Behavior around Kids, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, March 1, 2012
Three Witnesses Testify about Kelly Tickling, Roughhousing with Children, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 3, 2012
Father of Plaintiff Testifies Son Told Him of Sexual Assault by Kelly, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 7, 2012
More Testimony of Priest Roughhousing Children in the 1980s, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 8, 2012
Ex-altar Boy Describes Abuse, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, Stockton Record, March 9, 2012
Plaintiff Testifies in Abuse Lawsuit against Father Michael Kelly, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 9, 2012
Plaintiff Testifies Father Michael Kelly Caused Pain in Assault, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 10, 2012
Man Suing Priest Details Alleged Abuse, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, March 11, 2012
Defense Lawyers Question Former Altar Boy's Allegations, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 14, 2012
Defense Questions Plaintiff about Inconsistencies in Clergy Abuse Trial, By Ross Farrow, The News-Sentinel, March 15, 2012
Stockton Diocese Officials Testify; Father Michael Kelly May Take the Stand Tuesday, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel
March 17, 2012
' It Never Happened,' Priest Says, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, March 21, 2012
Kelly Takes Stand, Strongly Denies Charges against Him, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 21, 2012
Bishop Testifies in Priest Abuse Case, The Record, March 22, 2012
Lockeford Priest Remains Steadfast in His Rejection of Sex Assault Allegations, By Ross Farrow, Modesto Bee, March 22, 2012
Harvard Psychiatrist Denounces Repressed Memory Claim in Michael Kelly Trial, Lodi News-Sentinel, March 23, 2012
Plaintiff's Sex Abuse Memories Disputed, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record , March 23, 2012
Alleged Second Sex Abuse Victim's Testimony Not Allowed, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, March 24, 2012,
Dueling Experts Testify about Concept of ‘repressed Memory’ at Michael Kelly Trial, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel
March 24, 2012
Wife Takes Stand in Priest Sex Abuse Trial, By Ross Farrow, Modesto Bee, March 30, 2012
Closing Arguments Today in Father Michael Kelly Civil Trial, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 5, 2012
Attorneys Try to Win over Jury As Michael Kelly Civil Trial Closes, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 6, 2012
Attorneys Have Final Say in Trial of Priest, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, Stockton Record, April 6, 2012
Jury in Clergy Abuse Case Begins Deliberations, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 6, 2012
Father Michael Kelly Held Liable on All Charges in Civil Trial, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 6, 2012
Jury Finds Priest Liable for Abuse, By Jordan Guinn, Stockton Record, April 7, 2012
Father Michael Kelly Speaks to Supporters in Lockeford, By Maggie Creamer and Lauren Nelson, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 7, 2012
Stockton Diocese Priest Convicted of Child Molestation, News 10, April 7, 2012
Former Tracy Priest Loses Civil Trial, By Maggie Creamer and Lauren Nelson, Tracy Press, April 9, 2012
" He Considers His Life Over", California Catholic Daily, April 10, 2012
Priest Finding Support, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, April 10, 2012
Sex Abuse Victims Urge Bishop to “rein In” Parishioners, By David Clohessy, SNAP, April 10, 2012
What's Next for Former Valley Priest Kelly after Verdict?, By Ross Farrow, Modesto Bee, April 11, 2012
Next Phase of Ex-Priest's Sex Abuse Trial Delayed, Modesto Bee, April 12, 2012
Supporter of Priest Tries to Sway Jury, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, Modesto Bee, April 12, 2012
Stockton Diocese Accused of Cover-Up in Michael Kelly Case, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 13, 2012
Accused Priest Had Been Evaluate, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, April 13, 2012
Parent Complaints Put Kelly under Church Board Review in 2003, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, Modesto Bee, April 14, 2012
Retired LA Cardinal Mahony to Testify in Clergy Sex Abuse Case, By Barbara Dorris, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests,
April 13, 2012
Father Michael Kelly's Letter to Bishop Stephen Blaire, Lodi News-Sentinel, April 16, 2012
Catholic Priest Accused in Abuse Suit Returns to Ireland, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, April 16, 2012
Priest Returns to Ireland, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, April 17, 2012
Priest Flies to Ireland on Eve of Testimony in Sex-Abuse Trial, By Sue Nowicki, Bellingham Herald, April 17, 2012
Priest Found Liable for Abuse Flees Country, Fresno Bee, April 17, 2012
Irish Priest in Sex Abuse Lawsuit Flees California, By Edel O'Connell, Irish Independent, April 18, 2012
SNAP Blasts Retired Cardinal for Avoiding Trial, By David Clohessy, SNAP Blasts Retired Cardinal for Avoiding Trial, April 17, 2012
Jurors Can Weigh Priest's Departure in Abuse Case, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, April 19, 2012
NEW Questions about Father Michael Kelly's Guilt or Innocence -- Case Seen As Similar to Story of Priest Accused in the Movie "Doubt", By Niall O'Dowd, Irish Central, April 20, 2012
Stockton Diocese Settles; Victim Comes Forward, Modesto Bee, April 20, 2012
Statement from Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton, April 20, 2012
Stockton Diocese Settles Abuse Case for $3.75m, Sacramento Bee, April 20, 2012
Diocese Settles Civil Suit for $3.75 Million, By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore, The Record, April 21, 2012
Stockton Diocese to Pay 3.7 Million for Fr. Kelly Abuse Suit, By Joey Piscitelli, The AlterNet, April 21, 2012
Why Did the Stockton Diocese Pay $3.75 Million to Settle Clergy Abuse of Children?, By Tim Lennon, Bay Citizen, April 22, 2012
Too Much for Him to Take, California Catholic Daily, April 23, 2012
Accused Priest's Diocese Pays Victim $3.75m, By Stephen Rogers, Irish Examiner, April 23, 2012
Cardinal Mahony Dodges Again, By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, April 23, 2012
Catholic Church to Pay $3.75m in Kelly Claim, Union Democrat, April 23, 2012
Father Kelly Facing Criminal Charges?, By B.J. Hansen, MyMotherLode, April 30, 2012
Update on Father Kelly Investigation, By Chris Hewitt, Calaveras County Sheriff's Office, April 30, 20
Father Michael Kelly Sends Message to Local Supporters, Lodi News-Sentinel, May 1, 2012
New Allegations Surface against Defrocked Priest, By James DeHaven, Calaveras Enterprise, July 10, 2012
Second Clergy Abuse Lawsuit Filed against Father Michael Kelly, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, September 11, 2012
Sex Abuse Suit Alleges Conspiracy on Part of Stockton Diocese, News 10, September 11, 2012
New Sexual-Abuse Charges against Priest Michael Kelly, Modesto Bee, September 12, 2012
Church Accused of Setting Boy up for Abuse, By Jonny Bonner , Courthouse News Service, October 9, 2012
Manly & Stewart: Diocese of Stockton Sued by Another Victim of Father Michael Kelly, By Pr Newswire, Sys-Con Media, November 07, 2012
John MT Doe v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton et al, Nov. 7, 2012
Another Alleged Victim Sues Church, By Alex Maclean, The Union Democrat, November 07, 2012
Former Lockeford Priest Michael Kelly Faces More Abuse Allegations, By Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, November 8, 2012
Former Altar Boy Makes Sex Abuse Claims against Stockton Priest, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, November 8, 2012
Rev. Michael Kelly Rejects 3rd Cry of Abuse, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, November 10, 2012
Documents Show Stockton Diocese Took Action, By Sue Nowicki, Modesto Bee, November 11, 2012


Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Kelly's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Nov. 27, 2012