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BC High Settles 15 Alleged Sex Abuse Cases

Men Said They Were Molested As Students By Priest

Jan 10, 2003 | www.thebostonchannel.com Boston College High School has reached agreements with 15 men who claimed they were sexually molested by former school priests to the tune of more than $5 million, which will be split by all the plaintiffs.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that the money will be split between the 15 men, the lowest settlement amounting to $75,000, and the highest more than $1 million.

The Rev. James Talbot, 64, still awaits a criminal trial on seven rape charges and separate assault charges. He is out on bail.

The BC High settlement involves 14 cases involving men who claim that Talbot molested them back in the 1970s and 1980s when they were students at the school, ranging in age from 14 to 17. Talbot was a teacher and soccer and hockey coach.

"Father Talbot would allegedly arrange for individual students to meet him in the locker room to wrestle. Sometimes he allegedly gave the students beer," said Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley in September 2002, when Talbot was indicted.

The victims said he convinced them to wear little clothing, or nothing at all. Several months ago, some of them talked about the attacks.

"Our lives were changed drastically, in different ways. And so we hope that Father Talbot's life will be changed drastically as well," said alleged victim Jim Higgins.

The 15th case settled involved a different priest, the Rev. Francis McManus, who taught at the school for two years in the 1980s.

Thursday night, BC High President William Kemeza issued a prepared statement about the settlements.

"We hape that those who have been hurt, the brothers and sons of the BC family, receive some consolation through this settlement. We have put the policies and practices in place to absolutely protect our students so that they are safe here. We are firmly resolved to keep this kind of abuse from ever happening again," Kemeza said.

The attorney for the victims, Erik MacLeish, said the Archdiocese of Boston could learn from the way the Jesuit-run BC High conducted the settlement negotiations.

"It was exemplary," said MacLeish, who represents 247 alleged victims of clergy sex abuse suing the archdiocese. "I've never been through a settlement process that worked as well with as many compassionate people. It's (a process) the archdiocese needs to look at as one that is fair and equitable."

"It was done individually, it was done with humanity, in a way that didn't pit people against each other," he said. "They treated my clients with humanity and fairness. That's what made the difference."

Two of the cases involved alleged abuse that occurred at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, where Talbot also taught, MacLeish said. Of the remaining 12 alleged victims, all but two were BC High students, he said.

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