A jury in Stockton, California unanimously found that Rev. Michael Kelly should be held liable for damages related to three counts of child molestation. The plaintiff, a former U.S. Air force major currently on medical leave from his job as a commercial pilot, testified that he was molested by Rev. Kelly in the 1980s and only recently recalled the abuse. The abuse was apparently corroborated by a second victim whose testimony was kept from the jury. The defense relied on Dr. J. Alexander Bodkin, an associate professor of psychology at Harvard, who argued, in a rather circular fashion, that the plaintiff’s recollections must be false because the recovered memory has not been broadly accepted in the field. The jury rejected this defense and the church, which defended Kelly, has since allowed that there were no grounds for appeal. The Church settled the case for $3.75 million. Kelly, as reported in the LA Times, fled the country, while the investigation of other claims is still pending.
Professor Ross E. Cheit
Taubman Center for Public Policy & American Institutions
67 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Catherine E. McCarthy
Brown University, class of 2012