STOCKTON (CBS13) – The attorneys for the rape victim of a Catholic priest who fled the country announced on Friday the Stockton Diocese has agreed to pay their client $3.75 million to settle the civil case.

Michael Kelly was found liable of sexual assault of a 10-year-old altar boy in the 1980s earlier in the civil trial and the second phase was to determine the diocese’s liability. The settlement was reached late Thursday and announced to jurors in court on Friday morning.

Kelly informed Bishop Stephen Blaire in a letter dated April 15 that he had fled to his native Ireland because of health reasons related to the trial. He also continued to maintain his innocence.

Kelly joined the diocese in 1973 and had been the priest at the St. Joachim Catholic Church in Lockeford since 2004.

The victim won the first phase of trial when the 12-person jury determined unanimously that Kelly had sexually abused and raped him. The second phase of the trial had commenced approximately a week and a half ago.

“First and foremost, I want to thank the jury and the alternates in this case who believed me,” the victim said in a statement released by his law firm Manly & Stewart. “This four and a half years of litigation and 10-week trial has been the most difficult experience of my life, but I feel I have received justice today, not for me, but for that 10-year old boy who Fr. Kelly hurt so badly.”

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