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Ex-BC High Priest To Turn Self In On Abuse Charges

Sep 19, 2002 | The Boston Herald

A Jesuit priest accused of sexual assault by a dozen former Boston College High School student-athletes is expected to turn himself in for arraignment on related charges this afternoon.

The Rev. James Talbot was indicted earlier this week on seven counts: one each of rape and assault with intent to commit rape, and five counts of indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or older. The charges involve three alleged victims.

``We all hope that Father Talbot will be behind bars,'' said James Higgins, one of Talbot's accusers in an unrelated case. ``Our lives were changed drastically. We hope that Father Talbot's life will be changed drastically as well.''

``It's a good day,'' said Roderick MacLeish, a lawyer representing a dozen alleged Talbot victims.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said the indictment followed a lengthy investigation.

Conley said the New England Province of the Jesuits and Boston College High School cooperated extensively, and no evidence has emerged suggesting any person or organization other than Talbot should be charged in connection with his alleged wrongdoing. Talbot taught history and economics at BC High throughout the 1970s.

But it was his work as a soccer and assistant hockey coach that earned him the nickname ``Mad Dog'' at the prestigious preparatory school for boys.

In addition to being a harsh taskmaster, he was a sadistic pervert, prosecutors allege.

According to victims, Talbot would hold special ``toughness'' training in the basement of a science building.

It was there, victims said, that the priest would coerce his teenage victims to wrestle while wearing only athletic supporters or nothing at all. His practices allegedly included kneeling on victims' arms and forcing himself on them.

In 1980, he was transferred to become principal of elite Chevrus School in Portland, Maine. Allegations brought against him there resulted in a settlement.

MacLeish maintains the Jesuits were well aware of Talbot's actions when he was relocated. Today, the 64-year-old priest lives in a Weston retirement center for Jesuits.

Neither Talbot nor his lawyer returned telephone calls seeking comment. The head of the New England Jesuits could not be reached.

MacLeish praised the current BC High administrators and Jesuits for their handling of allegations, calling their financial and pastoral responses a ``model'' that religious orders and dioceses around the country should emulate.

He said some of the 14 cases his firm has brought against the order have already been settled, but declined to say how many.

But Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer also representing alleged Talbot victims, expressed disappointment with the order.

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