Former No. Smithfield priest faces sexual assault charges


NORTH SMITHFIELD – A former priest who served at St. John’s Parish for several years in the early 1980s is facing three counts of first-degree sexual assault over crimes that reportedly took place in town.

Edward Kelley, 79, was indicted by a statewide jury in May, and arrested at his home in Columbia, South Carolina. Kelley is currently being held without bail at the Eleanor Slater Hospital pending a hearing to determine his mental competency, scheduled for August 12.

The priest served at the Roman Catholic church in 1983, when he is accused of sexually abusing a boy who lived with him at the rectory.

The plaintiff is represented by Providence-based lawyer Timothy Conlon, who said this week that law enforcement officials sought out his client a decade ago, after another man who had been close with Kelley as a child committed suicide, according to a report on Friday in the Providence Journal.

Kelley was reassigned to assistant pastor of Our Lady of Consolation in Pawtucket in 1985 by Bishop Louis Gelineau. In 1986, he was again reassigned to become pastor of St. Agatha Parish in Woonsocket, where he remained until the early 1990s, when he was assigned to St. Aidan in Cumberland.

He resigned in 1992 at the bishop’s request, according to reports. The Rhode Island Catholic notes that in 2015, the Diocese of Charlston, SC contacted the Diocese of Providence about concerns with a former priest named Edward Kelley, and Bishop Tobin revoked his priestly faculties, although it is unclear if the report is in reference to the man currently accused.

Kelley is represented by Providence-based attorney Kara Hoopis Manosh. The competency hearing before Judge Joseph Montalbano will determine if he is formally arraigned on the charges.


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