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Former Myrtle Beach church altar boy sues over priest’s alleged sex abuse

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A former altar boy at a Myrtle Beach parish is filing suit claiming he and others were groomed and sexually abused by one of the church’s priests.

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 8 by a former St. Andrew’s Catholic Church altar boy, who remains anonymous, against the Diocese of Charleston.

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church is a parish in Myrtle Beach under the Diocese of Charleston.

When he was a minor in the early ‘90s, the plaintiff said he was groomed while serving at St. Andrews and eventually sexually abused by Father Robert Kelly, who died in 2004.

This not only happened to him but other altar boys, who were Kelly’s prey, according to the lawsuit.

Kelly used his position as a priest to groom altar boys while they were alone and engage in sexual abuse, the lawsuit states.

“Plaintiff was a young boy and had no idea that kissing, touching and fondling by a priest was not common behavior,” the suit reads.

The lawsuit alleges the Diocese of Charleston was aware or should have been aware of “the various illicit and improper sexual relationships which Father Kelly maintained before coming to or during his time at the Charleston Diocese.”

The plaintiff is asking for damages for pain and suffering.

The Diocese of Charleston sent WMBF News the following comment on the suit:

We have received a copy of the lawsuit and are currently reviewing it. We will respond to the pleading in due time.

Kelly was a priest at St. Andrews from 1990 to 1994.

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