Two men who allege Monsignor Joseph Kelly sexually abused them while they were housed at St. Michael’s School for Boys in the mid 1970s filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Scranton and others.
One of the lawsuits, filed in Philadelphia County Court, accuses Kelly and two other men of sexually assaulting a former student more than 100 times over a three-year period starting when he was 11.
Details of the allegations in the other lawsuit, filed in Lackawanna County Court on behalf of Aaron Thomas, are not yet known because the case was initiated through a writ of summons — a document that notifies a defendant a lawsuit is pending, but does not detail the allegations.
The Times Tribune does not usually identify victims of sexual assault, but Thomas, of Philadelphia, asked to be identified.
Kelly was added on Oct. 30 to the Scranton diocese’s list of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children based on allegations made by seven men who say they were abused at St. Michael’s. The diocese deemed four of the claims credible.
Kelly, 80, adamantly denied the allegations in several interviews with The Times-Tribune and accused the diocese of conducting a flawed investigation.
The Philadelphia lawsuit, filed by attorney Rosemary Pinto of Philadelphia and several other attorneys, alleges the man was abused by Kelly and two other men: Dwight Eisenberg, who worked as a counselor at St. Michael’s, and another priest whose name is not known.
The suit alleges the trio forced the victim to engage in various sex acts, including oral sex and intercourse from 1973 to 1976. Kelly is accused of abusing the boy in his office and other church properties.
The defendants named in the lawsuit include the Diocese of Scranton, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and St. Michael’s. Kelly and Eisenberg are not named as defendants.
Kelly denied the allegations, saying there are multiple problems with the man’s story, including the fact that Kelly did not begin serving at St. Michael’s until 1975 — two years after the man alleges the abuse started.
Liz Roy, a Texas attorney who along with Pinto represents the man, said it’s not uncommon for victims to be unable to recall exact dates of abuse. She noted administrators of a Scranton fund that compensates victims of sexual abuse found his claim credible.
Thomas also filed a claim with the fund, which was deemed not credible.
Kelly’s attorney, Andrew Hailstone, also said Thomas’ allegations were previously reviewed by the diocese and the Wyoming County District Attorney’s Office in 2014 and were deemed not credible in part because Thomas described his abuser as a priest in his 60s. Kelly was in his 30s when he served at the school.