Thursday, January 16, 2014

US wants Irish priest to face sex abuse charges

An Irish priest who fled to Ireland from the US in the wake of sex abuse allegations has been formally indicted by a criminal grand jury and is facing extradition.

Fr Michael Kelly was indicted on three counts of “lewd and lascivious conduct” on a child and one count of oral copulation on a child.

The district attorney’s office in Calaveras County in California has said it is now seeking the Tipperary native’s extradition from Ireland to face charges.

In Apr 2012, Fr Kelly returned to Ireland just a day before he was due to give evidence relating to abuse he was accused of inflicting upon an altar boy in the 1980s.

Before he fled, he wrote to the bishop saying he was on his way to Ireland, that he was suffering from “chronic bowel problems”, and was “physically and mentally spent” from the “vicious false allegations that had been spread about me over the last four-and-a-half years”.

Fr Kelly said he wanted to be with his family, “whose support and love for me is unconditional”.

The diocese where the abuse allegedly took place agreed to pay $3.75m (€2.8m) to the claimant.

Two more people came forward in 2012 alleging they had been abused by Fr Kelly.

One man claimed he was sexually abused three times at a mission church in Calaveras around 2000, when he was a 10-year-old altar boy, while Fr Kelly was a pastor there.

Fr Kelly has always protested his innocence. 

According to the US media, he has not been defrocked there and continues to hold the title of priest, but is no longer allowed to wear a priest’s collar or perform the sacraments.

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