NC judge dismisses child sex abuse charge against priest, citing dementia


The Rev. Joseph Kelleher

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STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — A North Carolina judge has dismissed a child sex abuse charge against a Catholic priest, saying the suspect doesn’t have the mental capacity to go to trial.

The Lake Wylie Pilot reported that a Superior Court judge in Stanly County dismissed the case against the Rev. Joseph Kelleher on Tuesday.

Kelleher is 86 and living in a retirement home in High Point. He reportedly suffers from dementia and various physical ailments, including heart disease.

Kelleher was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in an Albemarle church parlor in 1977. He was arrested in 2010 after the alleged victim came forward.

Kelleher had been charged with one count of taking indecent liberties with a child. His attorney said he pleaded not guilty.

Superior Court Judge Anna Mills Wagoner dismissed the charge based on evaluations ordered by the court.

The suspect was part of the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte for decades and worked as a pastor at the time of the alleged incidents.

Read full story: The Lake Wylie Pilot

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