Fugitive Priest’s Letter


Dear Bishop [Stephen] Blaire,

By the time you read this letter I will be in Ireland with my family. I am sorry for any difficulty this may cause the Diocese, but my health can’t take it anymore. I have sat back and listened to the vicious false allegations that have been spread about me for the past 4 ½ years, and my health has suffered greatly because of it. I have spent the last 39 years of my life serving God and the people of the various parishes of the Diocese of Stockton. Now I have not only lost my ministry, but this whole thing has taken its toll on my very being. I have lost everything I have worked for because of these false allegations.

I am mentally and physically spent. The stress of it all is causing my health to decline daily. Since the verdict I am on two kinds of medication for my stomach, I am having chronic bowel problems, I am getting an average of one hour of sleep a night, and I am losing weight at an alarming rate.I hope you will understand that right now I need to be with my family, whose support and love for me is unconditional. I also feel at this juncture that I need to begin the healing process in an environment where I can get the medical care I need with my family nearby. Your faith in me has been unwavering, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I will have the same e-mail address for purposes of continued communication.

Yours in Christ,

Michael Kelly

Irish Priest Michael Kelly flees California after Guilty Verdict In Sexual Abuse Case (RTE)

32 thoughts on “Fugitive Priest’s Letter

  1. Dave

    Since when is child abuse a “civil” case?

    I assume you can’t extradite in the case of non-criminal cases?

    1. woesinger

      It’s likely the case was taken directly by the victim rather than by the State of California. Hence a civil case.

        1. Blobster

          Yep, lower burden of proof. Also, I don’t think (open to correction) that you can be sent to jail. Purely a financial fine.

          I’m not even sure it’s illegal to leave the country…..man might be within his rights here.

    2. patricia

      in america the plaintiff has two choices, he can sue criminally or civilly. Criminally means the guy goes to jail but the plaintiff gets no money. Civilly means he dont go to jail but the plaintiff gets money.

      1. Dave

        I find that very odd.

        Basically, “do you want justice or money”. Hmmm. Which will people choose.

        Cheers for the clarification though.

        1. patricia

          trust me,, odd as it is, it is true. I once bounced a cheque for $118 at a grocery store. Rather than wanting their money back, they chose to sue me criminally. That is why the difference is so clear in my mind lol

    3. Leaning to the centre

      OJ Simpson won his criminal case for murder but was found against in a subsequent civil case taken by the families

  2. seany_delight

    “I will be in Ireland”…… ” ” where I can get the medical care I need”…..

    He is obviously delusional

    1. Marzipan

      I actually thought the same, I’d rather pay a lot and maybe get a bit of extra treatment or tests than not get the care I need at all.

  3. Eoin

    Did a little bit of Googling about the case and it appears the plaintiff’s case was based on “repressed memory”. Repressed and recovered memories are an entirely unreliable source of evidence as it is very easy to implant or manipulate them.

    Also, the priest took and passed two separate lie detector tests and passed them, but this was not allowed to be presented as evidence.

    Finally, although obviously not scientific, I can’t but notice that the vast majority of internet comments and letters in local newspapers are strongly supportive of Fr Kelly.

    I don’t often come to the defence of priests and obviously didn’t hear the evidence in the whole trial, but looks to me like a potential miscarraige of justice

    1. Conor

      I’m not usually one to jump to the defence of priests either but this ‘represses memory’ stuff is really dangerous and we all know what easy targets priests can be.

      Guilty priests deserve everything they get but there’s often more to an accusation than meets the eye

    2. well

      I would agree. But shouldn’t any decent court be able to figure this out? its California, not some backwater.

    3. Instant Karma Police 'n' Thieves

      “Also, the priest took and passed two separate lie detector tests and passed them, but this was not allowed to be presented as evidence.”

      Lie detector tests are unreliable. That is probably why it was not allowed to be presented.


      “When a well-trained examiner uses a polygraph, he or she can detect lying with high accuracy. However, because the examiner’s interpretation is subjective and because different people react differently to lying, a polygraph test is not perfect and can be fooled.”

    4. Noelle

      I know this man and I know in my heart and soul that he would never have done anything like what he is being accused of. The only thing he is guilty of is of being a priest. Now i’m no holy joe but my parents are very religious and Fr. Kelly was in my house on many many occasions when i was a child and through my teens when he was at home in Ireland. My brother was an altar boy who served with Fr. Kelly and never once was Fr. Kelly inapprorpriate towards him in any way. He is a lovely man who is dedicated to his religion and I can only imagine the pain and anguish both he and his equally lovely family are going through at this time. A “repressed memory = €3millon dollars! I bet a lot more people will getting their memories back. Now don’t get me wrong i know that there are lots of priests who have molested and abused children and they deserve punishment but Fr. Kelly is not one of these.

  4. littlesad

    i was thinking that when i read the letter – sometimes your gut tells you what is happening. IF it was me, i would want him to go to jail, i wouldnt care about the money side of thing. If it was that tough on me? no?

    1. BoredAtWork

      I agree, money would be the last thing on my mind. I’d want the man to suffer. That’s why this sounds a bit weird to me.

      Saying that, we’re Irish and aren’t exactly known for suing people so it’s hard to know.

      1. cluster

        I’d want the money. I am surprised to hear that the victim has a choice. Can the prosecutor not take a case without the consent of the victim?

  5. Betty

    They took a civil case because the statute of limitations had expired (see comment above!). Fleeing a jurisdiction after being found guilty does not appear innocent to me. In a civil case he is only liable for costs etc. and must not do jail time.

    1. peetur

      Seems a bit convenient that the statute of limitations was expired. I know of cases in Ireland where priests have been wrongly accused of abuse and it’s so obvious that it was people looking for a payout. I am not religious, but priests are such an easy target for miscarriages of justice these days.

  6. Joens

    “Recently, a civil jury in Stockton, Southern California, found unanimously that an unnamed man was molested by Michael Kelly, 62, when he was a boy.”

    So he was found guilty.
    We aren’t told what his punishment is.
    What is his punishment and did he do his punishment?
    Does he have to do his punishment if it was a “civil jury”?
    If he thinks it was a miscarriage of justice, shouldn’t he appeal it?
    Am I missing something?

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