Victims to Bishop: Come clean about fugitive cleric
Stop defending indicted priest, SNAP urges Catholic official
Bishop must not use bankruptcy to stonewall victims, they say
What: Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and supporters will urge the bishop of Stockton to:
-- "come clean" and turn over evidence about a local priest indicted Monday for child sex crimes,
-- publicly apologize for keeping that priest in ministry during a civil child sex abuse trial,
-- reach out to child sex abuse victims in the diocese and urge them to report to law enforcement, and
-- stop using bankruptcy to stonewall victims, dupe public, delay justice
When: Thursday, January 16 at 11:00 am
Where: Outside of the Stockton Diocese Headquarters
212 N. San Joaquin St. (between Miner and Channel) in Stockton
Who: Two-to-three adults who belong to a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Some were molested as kids; others are concerned Catholics.
Why: On Monday, a Calaveras County grand jury indicted Fr. Michael Kelly on four felony counts of child molestation.http://www.modbee.com/2014/01/14/3134602/priest-kelly-facing-14-years-in.html. Kelly, who in April 2012 was found liable for sexually abusing a Stockton boy, fled to Ireland after the verdict and amid rumors that he was under criminal investigation.
Thoughout the five-year litigation with Kelly victim Travis Trotter, Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire maintained Kelly's innocence, even publicly disagreeing with the unanimous verdict against the priest. http://stocktondiocese.org/bishop/bishops-statements/michael-kelly-verdict-04-6-2012
If convicted, Kelly could face up to 14 years in prison.
The same day that Kelly was indicted, Blaire announced that the Stockton Diocese filing for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, January 15. In a statement, Blaire claimed he wants "compensation for victims who have not had their day in court," but said that legal costs had depleted the diocesan treasury. More than a decade ago, the diocese spun off parishes, schools and charities as separate corporations, a move, victims believe, to protect those assets from civil liability in sex abuse cases.
SNAP fears that there may be more victims of Michael Kelly suffering in shame and silence because of Bishop Blaire's callous remarks and five-year battle with an abuse victim. They also fear that Blaire is using the bankruptcy to stall scheduled child sex abuse trials and keep valuable evidence from becoming public. The group is urging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to contact law enforcement. Victims are also encouraged to seek help and healing.