March 03, 2005

Diocese: Priest owes $1.2M

Cape Cod Times

The Fall River Diocese is seeking $1.2 million from a former Falmouth priest accused of embezzling funds from two Cape Cod churches, according to court documents filed yesterday.

The Rev. Bernard Kelly, first investigated by police in 2003 for his relationship with convicted murderer Paul Nolin, is being sued in civil court by the diocese and Bishop George Coleman for allegedly misusing parish money from Our Lady of Lourdes in Wellfleet and St. Joseph's in Woods Hole while he was pastor.

Yesterday, the court set a trial date in August, although both parties are trying to settle the case in the next 30 to 60 days, according to court papers.

Kelly's troubles were compounded yesterday when Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said his office's criminal investigation into Kelly's alleged larceny is nearly complete and is likely to be sent to a Barnstable grand jury soon.

Kelly, ordained in 1961, spent much of his career at Cape and islands churches. He worked at parishes in Hyannis and Martha's Vineyard, then became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from 1988 to 1997 before moving to the Woods Hole parish.

In fall 2003, police pressured Kelly for information about the death of Jonathan Wessner of Falmouth. Nolin, who had connections to Kelly, was eventually convicted of murdering Wessner.

Kelly resigned as St. Joseph's pastor in 2003 several weeks after Coleman placed him on leave.

Kelly was introduced to Nolin, a convicted sex offender, through fellow priest and Mashpee resident the Rev. Donald Turlick. Investigators allege that Nolin and Kelly had a sexual relationship; Kelly has denied it.

Posted by kshaw at March 3, 2005 07:34 AM