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In 1988, Kelly investigated the "kidnapping" of Tawana Brawley and dug up evidence that she had been at parties within the four days of her disappearance. Articles describe him as a "forensic psychologist".
In 1993, Kelly was convicted to a seven-year three-month sentence in federal prison for the 1992 kidnapping of Debra Dobkowski, the head of the Washington cell of a group called "The Circle of Friends". Kelly had mistaken the victim for her roommate Beth Bruckert, who had been the intended target. During the trial it was also established that the Cult Awareness Network, contrary to its publicly stated policy, in which it dissociated itself from deprogramming, had for many months during the 1990s paid Kelly a monthly stipend for preparing a pamphlet on Lyndon LaRouche.
Kelly's conviction was overturned in 1994 by the appeals court because of prosecutorial misconduct: Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Leiser had failed to turn over a search warrant affidavit that contained impeachment material and an impeaching memo written by the kidnap victim Dobkowski. Subsequent investigations by the Department of Justice, the Virginia State Bar and the D.C. Bar vindicated Leiser of those allegations finding that the affidavit was in the public record and available to defense counsel prior to Dobkowski testifying, and that the impeaching memo was not discovered until weeks after the trial had concluded. Dobkowski had claimed that she wasn't a member of the group, while Kelly had claimed that Dobkowski set him up by switching beds with her roommate, changing her hair and entering the van voluntarily and later claiming to have been kidnapped. Dobkowski later pleaded guilty for money laundering crimes and served a 21-month prison sentence.
- Davis, D. and B. Hankins. 2003. New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America: Baylor University Press.
- BAIL BARRED IN BRAWLEY TAPES CASE, Chicago Tribune, June 29, 1988
- Indictment accuses 5 of du Pont-heir plot, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/14/92
- Cleared once, man faces second kidnapping charge Archived 2006-10-09 at the Wayback Machine, Washington Times, March 6, 1993]
- CULT DEPROGRAMMER RECEIVES 7 YEARS IN BOTCHED ABDUCTION, Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1993
- Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 141. ISBN 0-275-98712-4.
- Orth, Maureen (December 2008). "Blueblood War". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
- U.S. Seeks to Fire Prosecutor in Va. For Alleged Misconduct in Cult Kidnapping Case, Washington Post, October 4, 1994
- Discovery violations have made evidence-gathering a shell game Archived 2008-05-18 at the Wayback Machine, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 24, 1998
- Return of the Cult Snatcher, Washington City Paper, September 23, 1994