Fr. Michael Kelleher – Diocese of Charlotte

Father Michael Joseph Kelleher 

Diocese of Charlotte 

Michael Kelleher Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1953

Charged criminally: 2009

Died: 2014

Assigned as Follows: 

  • 1953-1966 Trappist Monk in Ireland and New Zealand 
  • 1966 St. Gabriel (Greenville, NC)
  • 1966-1968 St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Charlotte, NC)
  • 1968-1969 Immaculate Heart of Mary (High Point, NC)
  • 1969-1970 Our Lady of Lourdes (Raleigh, NC)
  • 1970-1971 Bishop McGuinness Memorial High School (Kernersville, NC)
  • 1971-1972 St. Joseph’s (Asheboro, NC)
  • 1972-1973 St. John the Evangelist (Waynesville, NC)
  • 1972-1973 Immaculate Conception (Canton, NC)
  • 1972-1973 St. Margaret’s (Maggie Valley, NC)
  • 1973-1977 Our Lady of the Annunciation (Albemarle, NC) 
  • 1977-1986 Our Lady of the Assumption (Charlotte, NC)
  • 1986-1991 Immaculate Conception (Hendersonville, NC)
  • 1991-1998 Our Lady of the Rosary (Lexington, NC)
  • 1993-2009 Bishop McGuinness Memorial High School (Kernersville, NC)
  • 1998-1999 St. Dorothy’s (Lincolnton, NC)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Michael Joseph Kelleher:

Father Michael Joseph Kelleher was originally a native of Ireland, and worked as a Trappist monk there and in New Zealand for many years. In 1966, he came over to the United States to be ordained a priest for the Raleigh Diocese. From that diocese, the Charlotte Diocese was established in 1971.

In September of 2009, a man reported to police that he was molested by Kelleher as a 14-year-old altar boy in 1977, while Kelleher was assigned to Our Lady of the Annunciation in Albemarle.  In 2010, Kelleher was placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Charlotte and eventually turned himself in to police after he was charged with “indecent liberties with a child.” Father Kelleher admitted to the abuse.  At the time of his arrest, he was assigned as the chaplain at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Winston-Salem, according to media reports. 

 A second man reported to police that Kelleher sexually abused him shortly after the 2009 charges were filed. This man reported that Kelleher sexually abused him when he was 13-years-old in the late 1970s, after Kelleher was assigned to Our Lady of the Assumption in Charlotte. No charges were filed in that case.

In July 2014, a judge determined that Kelleher was unable to stand trial on the 2009 charges due to his dementia, and the case was dismissed.

Two more men filed civil lawsuits for sexual abuse by Kelleher in 2012. Both cases were dismissed due to the statute of limitations.

In April 2020, Kelleher was named in a civil lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Charlotte.

Kelleher’s name appears on the Raleigh Diocese’s list of credibly accused priests.

Kelleher died in August 2014. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in North Carolina, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte now have legal options to recover damages due to a change in North Carolina law. Contact us at (888) 283-9922. Email us at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.