Letters — Published May 13, 2012
May 13, 2012 12:00 AM
According to Monsignor Richard Ryan, there have been six to eight complaints made to the Stockton Catholic Diocese regarding offensive, playful activity on the part of Father Michael Kelly, involving young males. In addition, there have been two legal charges (one of which has resulted in a conviction) made against Kelly, regarding acts of sexual misconduct (abuse).
There have been two instances of attempts at jury tampering on the part of his supporters, neither of which Father Kelly has repudiated. On top of which I’m being told that Father Kelly is treated like a martyr.
In the meantime, I’m feeling slightly sick to my stomach.
Eugene F. Hanten
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Both The Record and Lodi News Sentinel did a good job covering the Michael Kelly sex abuse civil trial. Both published letters of tribute to Father Kelly’s character and integrity and in support of his “non-liability” or innocence. Quite an outpouring of love and trust for a very popular Catholic priest.
Unfortunately, not long ago, we were reading a similar story of sex abuse by Oliver O’Grady, another local priest convicted of sexually abusing children which became the subject of the film “Deliver Us From Evil.” Adding insult to injury, it was then hurtful to learn this diocese was complicit by camouflaging and covering up for abusive priests out of self interest, i.e., money, power and reputation.
From any perspective these are sorrowful stories and no one escapes unscathed, not even the attorneys. Clerical sexual abuse in any Christian denomination affects the whole of Christianity. It besmirches the Christian effort, and it is shameful anytime the cause of Christ is belittled.
William Van Amber Fields
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I write this letter with a heavy heart. The Catholic Church, Diocese of Stockton and Father Michael Kelly have challenged our faith.
Father Kelly was a very revered and liked parish priest. But obviously he had some pedophile problems. The Catholic Church and Diocese of Stockton one more time have been irresponsible in protecting our children. If they had a file on Father Kelly, why would you put him back in a parish where he could do the same behaviors over and over again?
To the people who wrote letters about Father Kelly’s character: Should you really have to defend his character as a priest if he was living up to his vows? I challenge each and every one of you to take a hard look at him again and see that he was a very sick man who was able to put on a great front to a lot of us.
Because Father Kelly came to your home does not mean he was incapable of committing these acts.
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After hearing and reading about Father Michael Kelly “fleeing” to Ireland, I feel it is necessary to share my feelings about his action. Those who do not believe in him will certainly feel even more against him after the latest move. Those who love and believe in him probably feel relief, as I do.
To this moment I still believe in his innocence.
Several years ago my husband and I had the very unfortunate experience of losing each of our best friends within a four-month period. Father Mike celebrated both memorial services. At the service for my husband’s business partner of over 40 years, Father Mike passed out on the altar. We discovered that he had been in the emergency room, the better part of the evening and early morning, dealing with extreme internal issues. Regardless of his health, he did not want to let us down so he still showed up to celebrate the memorial against the advice of his doctor.
In the spring of 2007, I telephoned him asking him to give my father the Sacrament of the Sick. He had a very busy day scheduled. Regardless, he showed up to my father’s death bed to administer the sacrament six hours before his death. Because of his unselfish acts to me and my family, I am eternally grateful. There are so many of my friends who can share similar incredible experiences involving Father Mike.
What the future holds for him is uncertain. He will remain in my thoughts and prayers as will the plaintiff, who I do believe has been the victim of sexual abuse and molestation by some other “monster,” as the attorney says.
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Like many Record readers, I was stunned to read that Father Michael Kelly had fled the country after being found liable in civic court of sexual misconduct against an altar boy.
My heart goes out to all those defenders of Father Kelly who had written letters of support that The Record published April 15.
The real story here lies in the failure of law enforcement. Our local authorities have slept through the entire crisis. As it happens so commonly, the cover-up is as bad as the (alleged) crime. It seems to me that our own district attorney could profit by the example of his counterpart in Philadelphia who is currently trying Monsignor William Lynn, who allegedly protected abusive priests there, for covering up the abuse scandal.
John H. Campion
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In the recent article “Priest returns to Ireland” comments attributed to the infamous attorney for the plaintiff explain much about the trial of Father Michael Kelly.
The attorney suggested Fr. Kelly left especially to avoid telling the plaintiff “what he did.”
We, who believe the accusations were false and the jury was wrong, do not believe that our friend and priest got off easy. In fact he was hounded almost to death. The attorney’s catchy sound bites are really vindictive attacks on an innocent man. They sound like punishment by trial and not legal proceedings to find the truth.
Hundreds of us believe that the allegations are based on faulty recollections and are totally false; that Fr. Kelly was wrongly targeted and a victim himself of the media climate; and that the jury was led astray by insidious questioning and the plaintiff’s courtroom theatrics.
We, and our 23-year-old twins who were altar servers with Fr. Kelly, know that every single experience with Fr. Kelly proves him to be an honest person who genuinely and selflessly cares for people.
Recently, we have re-thought our interactions with him, our observations of him around others during the past 15 years, Nothing would suggest, directly or indirectly that he would take advantage of anyone for selfish reasons. We are saddened that this good priest who loves his work and his flock has been driven from his American home.
Kenneth Robert Class
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Perhaps 10 years ago, Father Kelly was in such pain with his ulcers that he was having a difficult time with his many obligations as a priest. He was given six months leave and went to Ireland for tranquility before he resumed his obligations in Stockton.
Perhaps pain was the cause of Father Kelly’s sudden departure as surely he did not think clearly.
When he came to Presentation Church, he soon became part of our family. The day my husband died, he was at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 6 a.m. to give him the last rites although he had to say mass at 7 a.m. at Presentation Church.
One Christmas I suggested he stop by enroute to his dinner invitation. Unfortunately, the women were all in the kitchen getting ready to put our dinner on the table and the men were outside to stay out of our way. Father Kelly went into the family room where six bored and hungry grandchildren were sitting on the floor. Father sat on the floor and pulled out a deck of cards to entertain them with card tricks, saving the day for their busy mothers. He had the charisma to become part of each family when he visited!
I am sorry that he left so suddenly, but I don’t believe his painful ulcers allowed him to think clearly.