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Buffalo priest placed on leave following abuse allegations in new lawsuits

Buffalo priest placed on leave following abuse allegations in new lawsuits

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Buffalo Diocese

Buffalo Diocese headquarters in downtown Buffalo.

A retired Buffalo priest who is accused of child sex abuse in two recent Child Victims Act lawsuits has been put on administrative leave.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher suspended Monsignor James G. Kelly from active ministry Wednesday after an unnamed plaintiff said in court papers that Kelly molested him from 1980 to 1982. The plaintiff was an 8-to 10-year-old student of the Diocesan Educational Center and attended church at St. Nicholas and St. Benedict the Moor at the time of the alleged abuse. The school and both parishes are now defunct.

Kelly, 83, also was accused in a June 11 lawsuit by an unnamed plaintiff of engaging in unpermitted sexual contact with a minor from 2005 to 2007 while assigned to St. Margaret Church in North Buffalo.

Diocese officials said in a statement that the initial complaint was not served on the diocese and was discovered during a search of publicly filed complaints. The diocese said it has notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office about the complaint and referred it to a review board that will appoint an investigator.

Kelly's lawyer, Joseph G. Makowski, said the monsignor denies abusing the children.

"Monsignor Kelly has served our community with distinction for the past 59 years. We vehemently deny the allegations contained in the recent complaints," he said. 

He said Kelly looks forward to the review of the complaints by the diocese's independent review board.

Kelly, ordained in 1962, has been retired for several years, but he was continuing to assist in parish ministry.

Both lawsuits were filed jointly by the law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and Steve Boyd.

Kelly’s leave is pending an investigation and final determination by the review board.

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My byline has run in the Ithaca Journal, USA Today, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and the New York Times. I have been a staff reporter at The Buffalo News since 2002 and currently am part of the watchdog team.

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