STOCKTON -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton announced today that it is reinstating Rev. Michael Kelly as pastor of St. Joachim parish in Lockeford. Kelly had been on administrative leave while the church investigated an allegation of sexual abuse.
Since the accusation in September, the diocese has found no basis for the claim, according to a press release Bishop Stephen Blaire issued this morning.
The statement said the alleged victim and a third party who informed the diocese of the claim refused to speak further about the matter. The diocese said it investigated as thoroughly as possible under the circumstances, even hiring a professional investigator.
“His investigation did not reveal any evidence of sexual abuse on the part of Father Kelly,” the statement said.
The bishop wrote further that he received hundreds of letters supporting Kelly and seeking his return to the ministry.
Kelly has served at a number of parishes in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Tuolumne counties, including Our Lady of Fatima in Modesto, St. Jude's in Ceres and St. Patrick's in Sonora.
During the mid-1970s, Kelly also played an instrumental role in the creation of the Modesto Youth Soccer Association.