March 14, 2006

Priest’s victim’s father to speak

Telegram & Gazette


WORCESTER— Retired Tewksbury Police Chief John Mackey, whose daughter was instrumental in getting further prosecution of the Rev. Robert E. Kelley, will be among speakers at today’s Statehouse hearing in Boston on changes in the state’s laws dealing with sexual abuse of children.

Mr. Mackey first called for reform of the state laws regarding child sexual abuse at the 2003 sentencing of Rev. Kelley in Worcester Superior Court. He said at the time that chances of getting those changes were “slim to none” because of the strong lobby the Catholic Church has in the Legislature.However, three years later the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse Laws in Massachusetts has mounted a heavy lobbying effort to push for reform and said the bills need to get out of committee.

Mr. Mackey will be joined today at an 11:30 a.m. press conference in front of the Statehouse by David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, also called SNAP; Ann Hagen Webb, a psychologist and survivor of clergy sexual abuse; Roy Simmons, a sexual abuse survivor, who formerly played with the New York Giants and Super Bowl XIII Washington Redskins; Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children; and Carmen L. Durso, a Boston-based lawyer who has handled clergy sexual abuse suits, including several pending in the Worcester diocese.

Several of these advocates will then testify before the Massachusetts Joint Judiciary Committee on the need to change the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases and to remove or alter the $20,000 cap on what the Catholic Church has had to pay to those who were sexually abused by clergy. Other dioceses in the state waived the cap to give larger awards to victims, but the Worcester diocese has stuck to the cap and has given survivors settlements of much lower amounts.

Rev. Kelley, who was placed on leave by the Diocese of Worcester in 1986 after allegations were made that he abused girls, is serving a 5- to 7-year term in the Massachusetts Treatment Center, Bridgewater, in connection with the rape of Heather Mackey of Tewksbury. He has not been laicized, the church’s term for defrocked.

This is his second prison term. He served 6-1/2 years of a 7-year term in the state prisons after pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of Jennifer Kraskouskas of Gardner when he was assigned to Sacred Heart parish in Gardner.

Ms. Mackey said the abuse happened when she visited her grandmother in Leominster when Rev. Kelley was assigned to St. Cecilia’s parish.

Posted by kshaw at March 14, 2006 06:55 AM