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Priest flees country on eve of testimony in California sex-abuse case

Catholic World News - April 17, 2012

A priest of the Diocese of Stockton, California, has abruptly returned to his native Ireland, just before he was scheduled to testify in a sex-abuse lawsuit. Father Michael Kelly left a letter for Stockton’s Bishop Stephen Blaire, informing him that he had left the US because of deteriorating health, which he blamed on “vicious false allegations” against him.

Father Kelly had been suspended from ministry after a jury found him liable for sex-abuse damages. He was scheduled to testify on April 17 regarding the plaintiff’s charge that the Stockton diocese should also be liable for damages.

The plaintiff had also sought testimony from Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired Archbishop of Los Angeles, who had previously served as Bishop of Stockton. Bishop Blaire voiced his shock that Kelly had fled. The plaintiff’s lawyer in the case was angry that the accused priest would not testify after having received a subpoena requiring his presence in court. “I’m not going to let this go,” the lawyer said. “He is not going to get off that easy.”

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  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Apr. 17, 2012 3:12 PM ET USA

    I have followed this case for quite some time, and Fr. Kelly really got steamrolled. Investigations by both secular and Church authorities found nothing. He passed TWO polygraph tests. But the accuser hired a ruthless attorney by the name of John Manly. The polygraphs weren't allowed as evidence, but Manly was allowed to enter the totally discredited theory of "repressed memory." The jury was duped into believing "repressed memory" was real. Fr. Kelly is devastated, and his parish is crushed.

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