Assignment Record – Rev. Robert J. Kelly

Summary of Case: Robert J. Kelly was ordained for the Altoona-Johnstown PA diocese in 1974. He assisted at parishes in State College, Johnstown, Geistown, Altoona, Bellwood, and Gallitzen, and was pastor in Lockhaven and Philipsburg. He spent several years at the North American College in Rome and, for a short time, was a prison chaplain. In 1993 a man reported to the diocese that Kelly sexually abused him from ages 12 to 14 during 1975-77, when Kelly was assigned to Our Lady of Victory in State College. Kelly's accuser said the priest offered him alcohol, and that the abuse occurred at the parish, on drives to the mountains, and at a movie theater. Kelly was quietly sent by Bishop Adamec to treatment then given another parish assignment. He was also sent to a Charleston SC convent as chaplain in around 1993-94. Per the PA Attorney General's March 2016 Grand Jury Report, Kelly also attempted sexual advances on a 14-year-old boy in 1978. The Grand Jury called "horrifying" the fact that Adamec returned Kelly to parish ministry. By 1994 Kelly was the diocese's Director of the Society for the Propogation of the Faith and Holy Childhood Association and in 1999 he was named pastor of SS Peter and Paul in Philipsburg; he remained in both positions until his removal in February 2015 by Bishop Bartchak during a review of previous allegations.

Ordained: 1974


Start Stop Assignment Town State Position Notes


Altoona-Johnstown bishop was James John Hogan (1966-1986).
1980 Our Lady of Victory

State College

In 1993 a man told the diocese Kelly sexually abused him when he was ages 12-14 during 1975-77. He said the abuse occurred at Our Lady of Victory, in a movie theater, and near a fire tower in the mountains.

In 1978 Kelly reportedly attempted sexual advances on a 14-year-old boy.


2/3, 2/4, 4/4

In residence 1979-1980

Our Lady of Victory had a school with 274-209 students.

Kelly denied the allegations. The man filed a civil suit in 2003; the diocese said of the 1993 complaint, "several professional evaluations failed to substantiate concern."

5/78 1/79 Our Mother of Sorrows Johnstown PA   This assignment is per the AG's Grand Jury report.
1979 1980 Prison Farm, Western State Penitentiary Rockview PA Chaplain  
1980 1982 St. Benedict's Geistown PA 2/3 St. Benedict's had a school with 337-356 students.
1982 1983 Sacred Heart Altoona PA 2/2 Sacred Heart had a school with 346 students.
1982 1984 St. Joseph's Bellwood PA   This assignment is per the AG's Grand Jury report.
1982 1984 Our Lady of Lourdes Altoona PA 2/2 Our Lady of Lourdes had a school with 214 students. The Directories show Kelly to have been at this assignment 1983-84. The AG GJ report shows he was there 1982-84.
1984 1985 Our Lady of Victory State College PA 2/3 Our Lady of Victory had a school with 250 students.
1985 1986 Immaculate Conception Altoona PA 3/3 Immaculate Conception had a school with 280 students.


Hogan was succeeded by Joseph Victor Adamec (1987-2011).


1987 St. Patrick's Gallitzin PA 2/2 In residence St. Patrick's had a school with 18 students.
1987 1989 Immaculate Conception Lockhaven PA 1/1 Immaculate Conception had a school with 154-158 students.
1989 1990

      Kelly is not indexed in the 1990 Directory. The AG GJ report shows him to have been at the North American College in Rome 8/88-8/92.
1990 1992 On Duty Outside the Diocese       The AG GJ report shows him to have been at the North American College in Rome 8/88-8/92.
8/92   Guest House Treatment Facility     patient  
1992 1993 Our Lady of Victory State College PA 2/3 Our Lady of Victory had a school with 280 students, and a CCD program with 596 students.
1993   St. John Vianney Institute     patient  


Charleston bishop was David Bernard Thompson (1990-1999).

1994 May Forest, Generalate and Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy Charleston SC Chaplain  


Altoona-Johnstown diocese

1997 Prince Gallitzin Chapel House Loretto PA    
1994 2014 Society for the Propagation of the Faith & Holy Childhood Association Hollidaysburg PA Director  
1995 2000 St. Rose of Lima Altoona PA 3/3 In residence St. Rose of Lima had a school with 244-229 students, and a CCD program with 242-185 students.


Mark Leonard Bartchak replaced Adamec as Altoona-Johnstown bishop (2011-).

2/15 SS. Peter and Paul Philipsburg PA 1/1 SS. Peter and Paul had a CCD program with 201-92 students.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1975-2014)

Serbin Letter to D.A., September 25, 2002
Sex Suit Hits Diocese, By Sandra K. Reabuck, The Tribune-Democrat [Altoona PA], February 7, 2003
New Church Shocker, The Tribune-Democrat [Pennsylvania], Downloaded February 23, 2003
Local Clergy Implicated in Abuse Scandal, By Lara Brenckle, Centre Daily Times, February 25, 2003
Men Allege Diocesan Officials Concealed Abuse, By Mike Joseph, Centre Daily Times , March 5, 2003
2 More Priests Accused of Molesting, Altoona-Johnstown Diocese Targeted, By Tom Gibb, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 5, 2003
Priest Suits Pile up, The Tribune-Democrat [Altoona PA], Downloaded March 6, 2003
Bishop Adamec Releases Statement Names 13 Individuals Accused of Sexual Misconduct, By G. Kerry Webster, Daily Herald, March 10, 2003
No Cover-up Was Involved, Adamec Says, By Susan Evans, The Tribune-democrat, March 11, 2003
Abuse Scandal to Cost Diocese $3.7 Million, By Jennifer C. Yates, The Associated Press, carried in Centre Daily Times [Pennsylvania], Downloaded May 28, 2004
Bishop suspends priest while he reviews case, By Ryan Brown, Altoona Mirror, February 28, 2015
Grand jury: Hundreds of children sexually abused by priests in Altoona-Johnstown diocese, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, March 1, 2016
PA Attorney General's Grand Jury Report, March 1, 2016
PA GJ FBI Timeline, March 1 2016
Grand jury report raises questions about relations between Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and law enforcement, By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , March 6, 2016
Cambria County judge among senior officials who ignored reports of sex abuse in Altoona diocese, By Ivey Dejesus
PennLive, March 8, 2016

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 March 22, 2016.