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Former Priest Pleads Guilty To Raping Girls

Aug 15, 2003 | AP A former priest who admitted to sexually abusing a child 13 years ago pleaded guilty yesterday to raping two other girls.

Robert E. Kelley, 61, of Worcester, pleaded guilty to six counts of child rape. He admitted to abusing the girls who were between the ages of 6 and 10 from 1980 to 1986.

The abuse happened while Kelley was a priest at St. Cecilia's Parish in Leominster and Sacred Heart Parish in Gardner, according to District Attorney John Conte.

Kelley is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 1. His lawyer, Anthony Salerno, did not immediately return a telephone call to The Associated Press.

Kelley, who has not served as a priest since 1985, pleaded guilty in March 1990 to assault with intent to rape in another case. He was released from prison in 1997.

He has not been defrocked, but the church stripped him of his priestly duties immediately after being accused of molesting a girl, Msgr. Thomas Sullivan of the Worcester Diocese said.

Kelley receives no money from the diocese, he said.

"There was never any intention by the diocese to restore him to the priesthood," Sullivan said. "He receives nothing for the diocese. He cannot function as a priest and doesn't want to."

Sullivan said Kelley "immediately acknowledged he had a problem" when he was first accused of rape.

"This is a man who told the truth from the beginning and has paid severely," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the church has paid for the counseling of some of Kelley's victims.

The diocese was not named in the criminal complaint against Kelley.

In 1999, Superior Court Judge S. Jane Haggerty ruled in a civil suit that the diocese was not negligent in its supervision of Kelley.

Currently, there are about a dozen civil sex abuse suits involving roughly 10 priests pending against the diocese, said Gavin Reardon, the church's lawyer.

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