NC- Victims question if an admitted predator priest won't be charged

For immediate release: Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected]) 

Even though he confessed to molesting a child four years ago, we fear that criminal child sex abuse charges against Fr. Michael Joseph Kelleher will be dropped today by Stanly County prosecutor Reece Saunders who, we believe, has some tough questions to answer about why he let this case linger for four years. 

(Apparently, a Charlotte attorney shares our fears:

After civil child sex abuse lawsuits against Fr. Kelleher were dismissed days ago, a hearing on his criminal prosecution was put on the schedule for 2 p.m. today. That just doesn't pass the smell test. We call on Saunders (704 986 7010) to explain his rationale and this timing. 

When Fr. Kelleher was arrested four years ago, Albemarle Police Chief Ronnie Michael said "We have a solid case."

Doesn’t this smack of some kind of “sweetheart deal” between a prosecutor, a bishop and a defense lawyer? We hope not! But it sure looks like something's not quite right here. 

If Saunders drops this case, he will essentially be helping an admitted child molesting cleric and hurting that cleric's already-wounded victims.

Fr. Kelleher is an elderly man. But we believe he could still be dangerous. (Plenty of men in their 70s and 80s sexually violate kids. It's a crime that requires cunning, not strength. And plenty of parents relax their vigilance and trust their kids around a 70 or 80 year old balding, stoop-shouldered, slow-moving man who looks harmless but in fact is not.)

The prosecutor isn't the only person who must act now. We also call on all current and former church members and employees in each of the towns where Fr. Kelleher worked (Greenville, Charlotte, High Point, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Asheboro, Waynesville, Albemarle, Asheville, Hendersonville, Lexington, Lincolnton) to speak up with any knowledge or suspicions they may have about the cleric. 

We call on Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis to aggressively reach out to his flock - using his bully pulpit, church bulletins, diocesan website, and personal parish visits - and beg anyone who saw, suspects or suffered child sex crimes to come forward, report any crimes or misdeeds they may have seen, suspected or suffered by Fr. Kelleher to police and prosecutors. We urge him to hold a news conference and admit that the men who report having been sexually assaulted as kids by Fr. Kelleher are credible, and prod others with information or suspicions to speak up now.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is 

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])


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