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Retired Diocese of Duluth priest accused of sexual abuse of a minor

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The Diocese of Duluth announced that a retired diocesan priest, Father Cornelius Kelleher, has recently been credibly accused in the sexual abuse of a minor female during his time as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Chisholm from 1975 to 1986.

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Kelleher previously served at St. Andrew’s in Brainerd.

When the accusation was made, Kelleher was immediately removed from any public ministry and is no longer able to function as a priest in his retirement. He retired July 11, 2012. There are, at present, no formal criminal charges or litigation in connection with this accusation, the diocese reported.

Kelleher worked in the diocese as a priest from 1956 to 2012. He served at the following parishes: St. James, Duluth; St. Joseph, Crosby; Holy Family, Eveleth; St. Mary, Cook; St. Bridget, Greaney; St. Benedict, Duluth; St. Joseph, Gnesen; St. Joseph, Lakewood; St. Joseph, Chisholm; St. Andrew, Brainerd; St. Patrick, Hinckley; and St. Joseph, Beroun.

Since 1992, the Diocese of Duluth has had in place a sexual misconduct policy the diocese reports has been conscientiously enforced. Subsequently, the United States bishops issued their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in June 2002. In a news release, the Diocese of Duluth reports it is “committed to helping identify sexual misconduct on the part of all those who work with children and youth, to offering help and healing to anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy, and to preventing this terrible crime from happening in the future.”

“I deeply regret the long-lasting and devastating effects of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy and am completely committed to assisting its victims and preventing any recurrence of these crimes,” wrote Bishop Paul Sirba in a letter to the faithful of the diocese. “I ask you to join me in prayer for all those who have been wounded by sexual misconduct on the part of the clergy.”

A press conference with Bishop Sirba is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Pastoral Center.

The diocese reports it urges anyone who has suffered such abuse to report it to the civil authorities and to the diocese at 2830 E Fourth St., Duluth, MN 55812; at 218-724-9111; or through one of the Diocesan Assistance Coordinators whose contact information is available in the diocesan newspaper, The Northern Cross, and on the diocesan website, www.dioceseduluth.org.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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