2003-10-17 / Front Page

Religious Group Saddened By Guest’s Death

By Brian Magoolaghan
Religious Group Saddened By Guest’s Death By Brian Magoolaghan


Jim Kelly at an April 2003 meeting of Rockaway Voice of the Faithful. As a boy, Kelly was sexually abused by a priest.Jim Kelly at an April 2003 meeting of Rockaway Voice of the Faithful. As a boy, Kelly was sexually abused by a priest.

At a meeting of the Rockaway Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), earlier this year, Jim Kelly described the "professional pedophile," who was also his childhood priest.

As a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Kelly often traveled from New Jersey, where he lived, to speak about the abuse he suffered as a boy.

He told his audiences about a man, only recently removed from the priesthood by the Vatican, who used pornographic magazines, ice cream, beer, cigarettes, and fishing trips to lure young boys into his "club."

James Thomas Kelly committed suicide, on Sunday, October 12. He was 37.

At least one of Kelly’s brothers, and a number of friends were hesitant to declare the abuse he suffered as the sole reason for his death, but did say he was deeply troubled by the experience, according to a source close to the family and a story in The New York Post.

Kelly appeared so deeply affected, during his Rockaway visit, however, that The Wave reported, "…Jim Kelly’s fragility and torment is clear when he recalls part of his childhood."

In March, VOTF member Anne Heslin called Kelly "generous and courageous," and said she thought speaking helped him with his emotions. The day after his death, Heslin was clearly upset, as she thought of the "handsome and intelligent" guest speaker. She said VOTF members were very impressed by Kelly, because he was willing to speak when so many others could not.

In the years before his death, Kelly moved from Mendham to Morristown, New Jersey, and worked as a salesman in the telecommunications industry. Kelly also served in the Army Reserves, and was active in the Mendham Pastime Club.

Kelly is survived by his parents, Paul and Eileen Kelly of Florida; two sisters; and five brothers.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to SNAP, c/o St. Joseph Church, 6 New Street, Mendham, New Jersey.


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