Faith and Religion

Civil Jury —Guilty of Sexual Assault:Father Michael Kelly Removed from ministry

Stockton, CA — Father Michael Kelly, pastor of Saint Joachim’s Catholic Church in Lockeford, was found guilty of sexual assault on Friday, April 6th, by a civil jury following the charges of an altar boy in the 1980s.

“In light of this verdict, I have made the decision to remove Fr. Kelly from ministry, effective immediately,” said Dioceses of Stockton’s Bishop, Stephen Blaire, in a press release following the jury`s decision.

The plaintiff, a 37-year-old man, alleges that the priest sexually abused him back in the 80s when he was an altar boy at Cathedral of the Annunciation located in northern downtown Stockton.

In a call for solidarity towards their faith, “Kelly told the congregation not to blame Bishop Stephen Blaire for his removal because the church leader had no other choice.” The Lodi News Sentinel reported on Saturday, April 7th, that more than a hundred parishioners gathered at the Lockeford’s Catholic Church after the verdict.

Following the conclusion of the eight-week trial, Kelly continues to deny the allegations. “Nevertheless, it is my belief that the jury verdict must be respected,” said Blaire. “The Diocese of Stockton takes all accusations of sexual abuse with great seriousness. We have in place policies and procedures to help us get to an understanding of the truth, and we remain committed to creating and maintaining a safe environment for all our children and young adults.”

As of 2003, the Church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People mandates that church leaders immediately remove a priest convicted of sexual crimes against minors.



About Dennise Rocha

Journalist with Bilingual Weekly Newspaper


5 thoughts on “Civil Jury —Guilty of Sexual Assault:Father Michael Kelly Removed from ministry

  1. The Modesto Bee is reporting today that Kelly worked at a large number of parishes around California, including Modesto, Sonora, Ceres and San Andreas. This is in addition to Stockton and Lockeford.

    The Dr. William Ayres blog ( Ayres was arrested in San Mateo in 2007 for molesting young boys sent to him for therapy) has a post up, asking that victims of Kelly come forward: Here is the post from the Dr. William Ayres blog, (Ayres was arrested in San Mateo in 2007 for arresting young boys sent to him for therapy) asking that victims of Father Michael Kelly come forward:

    Posted by Mercyneal | April 11, 2012, 6:14 am
  2. I am a victim’s advocate. We know there are other victims of Father Michael Kelly out there. This brave victim has paved the way for you to come forward. Please get in touch with me if you have any information about Father Kelly.

    Posted by Mercyneal | April 10, 2012, 2:40 pm
  3. I posted a comment, two of them but they never get posted here. What’s up?

    Posted by Mercyneal | April 10, 2012, 2:39 pm
    • Hi Mercy,

      New commentors need to be approved. It takes us a little while to approve the comment. However, we approved your comment and that should make it easier in the future.

      Thank you for participating in the conversation.

      Posted by bilingualweekly | April 10, 2012, 2:45 pm
  4. Statement by David Clohessy, SNAP Director, “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”
    A support group for victims of clergy sex abuse is calling on Stockton’s Catholic bishop to “rein in his flock” after parishioners rallied around a priest who was found guilty of sexually molesting an altar boy.

    Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Bishop Stephen Blaire about some church-goers at St. Joachim Parish in Lockeford who are backing Fr. Michael Kelly. After a two month civil trial, jurors determined that Kelly sexually abused a child.

    SNAP says that the public actions by parishioners – both during the trial and since – have been insensitive to victims and will likely deter others who may have seen, suspected, or suffered child sex crimes from coming forward.

    During the trial, a minority of parishioners from St. Joachim and elsewhere packed the courthouse in support of Kelly. One parishioner approached a member of the jury, trying to persuade him to let Kelly go. Some of Kelly’s backers have also written letters to newspapers admonishing those who have accused Kelly of wrongdoing.

    “It’s dangerous because it creates a hostile atmosphere where others who may have knowledge of this abuse, or other abuse, will be afraid to come forward,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “Bishop Blaire should step forward to rein in his flock and help them find ways to show support for their priest that don’t involve intimidating victims.”

    SNAP is encouraging parishioners to NOT hold future rallies either in their parishes or near the courtroom in an effort to prevent victims and witnesses from being intimidated. They also are sending a letter to Bishop Blaire to encourage him to prevent the further stifling of victims.

    With the second half of the trial – the phase in which the possible culpability of Stockton church officials will be determined – set to begin on Wednesday, April 11, SNAP hopes that the bishop will use his influence to help prevent the trial from becoming a spectacle.

    “We want the truth to come out,” said Clohessy, “and if folks are too afraid to come forward then it will stay buried. We urge the bishop to do everything in his power to allow the justice process to continue without interruptions or tampering.”

    The Diocese is being represented by Thomas Beatty of the McNamara Law Firm. Beatty can be reached at, or by calling 707.427.3998. The Diocese of Stockton can be reached at 209.466.0636.

    Posted by snapjudy | April 10, 2012, 12:37 pm

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