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Stockton diocese settles abuse case for $3.75M

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POSTED April 21, 2012 1:56 a.m.

STOCKTON  (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Stockton has agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle a lawsuit by a former altar boy who said he was molested by a priest in the 1980s and church officials didn't do enough to stop it, attorneys for the alleged victim and the diocese said Friday.

The altar boy, now in his 30s, said Michael Kelly abused him in the 1980s while Kelly was a priest at Cathedral of Annunciation in Stockton. A civil jury in the lawsuit found Kelly liable for the molestation earlier this month. Kelly was removed from the ministry and has since gone to his native Ireland, citing health problems.

The settlement was reached as the trial was in its second phase to determine whether the diocese was also at fault.

Kelly's accuser has agreed to drop the lawsuit and seek no further action against the diocese or Kelly, according to the diocese. But in a statement released through his attorney, the alleged victim called on law enforcement officials to investigate how Kelly was allowed to stay in the ministry after it was clear he posed a danger to children.

$2 million of the settlement will be covered by the diocese's insurance carriers, according to Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, head of the diocese.

"The settlement brings an end to litigation that began more than 4 1/2 years ago and that has occupied a great deal of time and focus," Blaire said in a statement. "We respect the right of everyone to have their day in court, and we abide by the decisions that were made."

Kelly was not charged criminally in the Stockton case. The alleged victim's attorneys have said the statute of limitations had expired when he recovered memories of the abuse.

However, Kelly is under investigation by sheriff's officials in Calaveras County on separate abuse allegations.

John Manly, an attorney for the plaintiff, said anyone with information about the case should contact the Calaveras County sheriff's office.

 

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