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After priest flees country, California diocese settles sex-abuse case

April 20, 2012

The Diocese of Stockton, California, has reached a settlement in a sex-abuse lawsuit, after the priest accused of molesting a former altar boy fled the country to avoid testifying.

The plaintiff had accused Father Michael Kelly of abusing him in the 1980s, and a jury had found the priest liable for damages. The court then moved on to determine whether the diocese could also be held liable. On the eve of his scheduled testimony, Father Kelly abruptly left California, returning to his native Ireland, saying that his health required a break from the courtroom ordeal.

The Stockton diocese reached a settlement with the plaintiff, agreeing to pay $3.75 million, 2 days after the priest’s unexpected flight.


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