Priest finding support

STOCKTON - There's a wave of support for former Catholic priest Michael Kelly even after a civil jury found him liable for sexually molesting an altar boy more than 20 years ago.

Friday's verdict disheartened a slew of parishioners from St. Joachim Church in Locke-ford and other supporters even while advocates of the plaintiff rejoiced.

They said civil justice would have to suffice, since criminal charges couldn't be filed because of the statute of limitations.

The Diocese of Stockton removed Kelly from ministry Friday immediately after the verdict at San Joaquin County Superior Court.

"All the parishioners, everybody who knows Father Kelly, are devastated," said Christine Brandstad, a Linden resident who attends St. Joachim, where Kelly was pastor. "He is the most beloved priest we've ever known."

An emotional crowd gathered at the Lockeford church Friday to hear Kelly speak and reiterate that he has been falsely accused.

Kelly's removal is spur...


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