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Stockton diocese puts priest on leave after sex abuse complaint

STOCKTON -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton said today it received a complaint that a priest sexually abused a child more than 20 years ago.

The diocese said in a news release that it had placed the Rev. Michael Kelly on administrative leave from his church in Lockeford while the matter is investigated. The abuse allegedly took place in the Stockton home of the accuser's parents sometime between 1984 and 1986. The release did not say if the minor abused was a boy or a girl, nor did it give the child's age.

The diocese said it notified Stockton police of the complaint.

"Father Michael Kelly has categorically denied that he has ever abused a child," the statement said.

Kelly arrived at Our Lady of Fatima parish in Modesto from his native Ireland in 1973. He served at several other parishes, including those in Sonora, Stockton and Tracy. He was active in founding the Modesto Youth Soccer Association. Called the godfather of the MYSA, he was honored by the group with an award in 1989.

The Diocese of Stockton includes the counties of Alpine, Calaveras, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne, where there are 32 parishes and 12 missions.

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