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Stockton-area priest flees country amid sexual misconduct trial

April 17, 2012 |  9:54 am

A Catholic priest from outside Stockton has reportedly fled the country for his native Ireland after being found liable of sexual misconduct.

Father Michael Kelly, from Lockeford, Calif., is in the middle of a trial in which the victim is seeking damages for the misconduct. Before he fled, Kelly penned a letter to Diocese of Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire telling him the stress of the trial was taking too high a toll on his health, the Stockton Record reported.

“This afternoon, I was stunned to receive a letter from Fr. Michael Kelly informing me he had returned to Ireland in the midst of the civil trial in which he is a defendant,” Blaire said in a written statement.

In the letter, Kelly wrote that he was averaging only an hour of sleep a night, was losing weight and had chronic bowel problems, the newspaper reported.

"I have sat back and listened to the vicious false allegations that have been spread about me for the past 4 1/2 years, and my health has suffered greatly because of it," Kelly said. "I hope you will understand that right now I need to be with my family, whose support and love for me is unconditional."

There were no criminal charges against Kelly because the plaintiff came forward after the statute of limitations.

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— Stephen Ceasar

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