Faith and Religion

The Diocese to $3.75 million to victim of Fr. Michael Kelly


STOCKTON, CA — on the morning of April 20, 2012 Stockton County Superior Court Judge Bob McNatt, announced the settlement of the sexual abuse claims filed by Manly & Stewart’s client, who revealed himself after the settlement to be Travis Trotter.

“The Diocese agreed to pay the plaintiff and his attorneys $3.75 million, with $2 million of this amount being paid by the Diocese’s insurance carriers. In response, the plaintiff will dismiss his lawsuit and seek no further action against the Diocese or Fr. Kelly,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire.

This is one of the largest individual settlements in the history of the sexual abuse scandal and is a complete victory for the victim and his family.  The settlement was reached late April 19th closing the trial, and it was agreed by all parties that it would not be announced until the jurors were advised of the agreement in court the following day.

The victim’s legal team included attorneys Rebecca L. Rhoades, Vince W. Finaldi, and John C. Manly.  The victim won the first phase of trial when the 12 person jury determined unanimously that Fr. Kelly had sexually abused and raped the victim. The second phase of the trial had commenced approximately a week and a half ago.  Fr. Kelly had already returned to his native Ireland, citing poor health and still denying the charges.

Travis Trotter (John TZ Doe), plaintiff in the case stated, “First and foremost, I want to thank the jury and the alternates in this case who believed me.  I also want to thank Judge McNatt, the court staff and my legal team.  This 4 ½ years of litigation and 10-week trial has been the most difficult experience of my life, but I feel I have received justice today, not for me, but for that 10-year old boy who Fr. Kelly hurt so badly.”

“I have worked with many victims of sexual abuse,” admits Fr. Dean McFalls of St. Mary’s Church, located just three blocks from the court.  “The vast majority are exploited by members of their own families, or their extended families.  How do they find healing?  In these extended court battles, at times new victims are created.  I’m not sure ‘winning’ in court and receiving a huge financial settlement is the solution, since the money doesn’t just drop down from heaven.  And much of it goes to lawyers.  But certainly we all hope the victim and his family find healing by having the injustice recognized publicly and in receiving the settlement.  Our prayers are constantly with them.”

Written by Mayra Dennise Barrios-Rocha
Bilingual Weekly (209) 598-6525

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