Kelley Says He Abused Dozens of Young Girls
By Kathleen A. Shaw, Telegram & Gazette - Saturday, May
The Rev. Robert E. Kelley admitted in a sworn deposition that he
sexually molested 50 to 100 young girls while he was
an associate pastor to St. Cecilia's parish in Leominster from 1976
Rev. Kelley, who on Monday was charged with rape for the second
time, also said under oath that he had molested several other girls
during his tenure at parishes in Southbridge, Lunenburg and Gardner.
The lengthy deposition, a copy of which was obtained this week
by the Telegram & Gazette, was made in 1996 while Rev. Kelley
was still serving a prison sentence for his 1990 conviction for
raping a young girl in Gardner. The deposition was for a civil lawsuit
filed on behalf of a woman who said the priest had sexually abused
her when she was a young girl living in Southbridge.
The lawsuit was settled out of court and Rev. Kelley's deposition
had never been made public until this week. The priest has been
on leave from the Catholic Diocese of Worcester since 1985, but
it is noted in the deposition that the diocese continued to send
him monthly checks, generally ranging from $500 to $700 per month,
although one month he received $7.
Asked by the lawyer for the plaintiff to estimate how many girls
he had molested while serving at St. Cecilia's, he responded: All
right. So I would say ... 50 to 100 -- 50 to 100 to the best of
my recollection as of right now. He said some of the sexual
abuse occurred inside the church, but mostly elsewhere.
In the deposition, Rev. Kelley told the questioner that he worried
his admissions made him look like some type of a monster or
I work beautifully with people, no matter of age, he
said. ... Humility is truth and I'm going to put it right
on the table. I have an unbelievable track record in the Diocese
of Worcester as an administrator and as a people person, and as
being a hell of a trench fighter. You can put that in the record:
A hell of a trench fighter.
On Wednesday, three women who say they were molested when they
were young girls by Rev. Kelley filed a civil lawsuit against the
Worcester Diocese and two priests who worked with him at St. Cecilia's.
They allege that the other two priests didn't take steps to protect
The priest also is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Leominster
District Court on charges of rape and unnatural rape of Heather
Mackey of Tewksbury, one of the three women who filed the suit.
The other women are Debbie A. Doucet and her sister, Nicole Cormier,
both of whose maiden name was Goguen.
The three women are asking that others who say they were victims
of Rev. Kelley contact them via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several women already have done so.
After he was ordained in 1968, Rev. Kelley was assigned to Notre
Dame parish in Southbridge, where he was put in charge of the church's
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts programs, including the Brownies. In
the deposition, Rev. Kelley admitted that he inappropriately touched
He also acknowledges having molested the young daughter of a friend.
He said the father came to Bridgewater State Hospital, where he
was being treated in a program for sexual offenders, and confronted
him about the molestation.
The priest also admitted molesting three girls in Lunenburg, including
one whose name he could not remember.
While at St. Cecilia's, Rev. Kelley said he became fearful that
another priest there, the Rev. George Denomme, would find out that
he was molesting young girls. Some parishioners were also becoming
What did Father Denomme say to you after he received the
second report of inappropriate touching? Rev. Kelley was asked
during the deposition. I denied it. He asked me if there was
any truth to it. I said absolutely not, and he believed me. He truly
believed me, Rev. Kelley said.
He said Rev. Denomme did confront him a year or two later after
receiving another complaint from the parents of a young girl. He
told me, you know, never to do anything like that, Rev. Kelley
At that point, the priest said, Rev. Denomme paid close attention
He'd be around me a lot, Rev. Kelley said. Like
in a situation in the school or in the sacristy of the church, he'd
just pop in out of nowhere. I knew what he was doing. He was blitzing
me. He was hoping to catch me. I knew it. He was intelligent enough
to do it. He was a very, very tough man. I don't know what he would
have done, had be caught me. I think he probably would have -- well,
I'm not going to put that out publicly.
Rev. Denomme's watch continued until Rev. Kelley left Leominster,
His next -- and final -- assignment was at Sacred Heart in Gardner.
The deposition was taken at the jail in connection with a lawsuit
filed by Jennifer Kraskouskas of Gardner. He pleaded guilty to raping
Ms. Kraskouskas when she was a child.
He was asked how many girls he had molested while pastor of Sacred
Heart parish in Gardner, where Ms. Kraskouskas was a parishioner,
and he said it would be a small number because he was focusing his
attention on Ms. Kraskouskas.
The Rev. Thomas Teczar, who has been accused of molesting boys,
was assigned to the same parish. Rev. Kelley was asked if he had
suspicions about Rev. Teczar's activities.
Suspicions, maybe. No validation, he said.
In the deposition, Rev. Kelley said he had entered the priesthood
because he liked the priests in his home parish of Our Lady of the
Rosary, in the Greendale section of Worcester, and not out of any
religious fervor. He regularly attended weekly Mass but never went
to novenas, daily Mass or participated in other religious activities.
He said he had dated girls in high school and kept his desire to
be a priest a secret from everyone, including the priests, his friends
Rev. Kelley, 60, was born in Concord and grew up in Connecticut,
one of nine children. He moved to Worcester in 1955. He attended
Burncoat Junior High, graduated from North High School in 1960,
and commuted to Assumption College for two years before entering
St. Paul's seminary in Ottawa.
When asked why he went to a seminary in Canada, he said: You
want me to be humble? Humble is truthful. At the time, the brightest
students were sent to either Rome or Ottawa.
During his seminary years, he volunteered or worked at an orphanage
in Canada and at St. Anne's Orphanage in Worcester.
Rev. Kelley was put on leave from the priesthood about Easter,
1985, after the parents of the Goguen girls had met with Bishop
Timothy J. Harrington. The women said this week that Rev. Kelley
left Leominster in 1983, but they did not tell their parents about
the molestation until 1985.
Rev. Kelley said he had received a call from Monsignor Raymond
Page, the Worcester Diocese's vicar for priests, who told him to
come to the Chancery at 9 a.m. the following Monday.
Monsignor Page told him of the allegations and asked if he had
indecently touched the Goguen girls. Rev. Kelley was told the bishop
had given the family assurances that he would act.
Monsignor Page asked if the allegations were true. Rev. Kelley
said his answer was: Yes, unfortunately, yes, it is.
He said he was willing to undergo treatment and did spend time at
a counseling center for clergy in St. Louis.
He now operates a flower shop in Cambridge with his brother.