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Ex-Maine Priest Accused Of Abuse At Boston School

Mar 6, 2002 | Portland Press Herald

A priest and former Cheverus High School teacher who was accused of molesting a student in Portland in 1984 and 1985 is facing similar allegations of sexual abuse in Boston going back to the 1970s.

The Rev. James Talbot was accused in 1998 of abusing a 15-year-old Cheverus student and later reached a confidential settlement in the case.

On Tuesday, the acting president of Boston College High School in Massachusetts acknowledged receiving new complaints that Talbot engaged in "inappropriate conduct" at that school sometime between 1972 and 1980. The Boston Globe reported the allegations after being contacted by graduates who said Talbot sexually molested them.

The lawyer in Portland who sued Talbot in the Cheverus case said Tuesday that, while he investigated his client's case, he heard stories that Talbot had abused before. He expected, eventually, to hear more allegations.

"If this guy is a predator, there are more people out there who are suffering from this kind of abuse," said Mark Randall, a lawyer with the Daniel G. Lilley Law Offices.

Talbot, who lives at the Campion Center, a Jesuit "residence and renewal center" in Massachusetts, did not return telephone calls Tuesday for comment.

Officials of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuit Order, plan to meet with law enforcement authorities to discuss the allegations. They said, however, that they have found no evidence that there were allegations against Talbot before they transferred him from Boston to Cheverus in 1980. A Cheverus official also said Tuesday that officials did not know of any allegations in Boston.

Boston school officials called the transfer routine, and said part of the reason they sent Talbot to Cheverus was because the school in Portland was starting a soccer team that year.

Randall said he doesn't know whether any formal complaints were lodged in Boston, but that Jesuit documents he read while pursuing a case left him feeling uncomfortable.

"There was just some weird language," he said. "Nothing said, 'The guy is abusing kids, we've got to get him out of here.'. . . But it didn't sound like, 'Oh, well, what a great opportunity to get him to Maine to coach.' My theory was that these guys know."

The Archdiocese of Boston is embroiled in a sexual molestation scandal involving parish priests and the transfer of some abusers from one parish to another. With the new allegations about Talbot and another Jesuit, the Rev. Francis J. McManus, the scandal enlarged to include priests belonging to religious orders that run educational institutions.

Randall represented Michael S. Doherty, a former Cheverus student who sued Talbot, Cheverus and the Diocese of Portland in 1998, and settled three years later.

Doherty, who now lives in Florida, said that Talbot abused him in 1984 and 1985, when he was 15 and 16 and attended the private school.

Randall said that during preparations for the case, which was settled before it went to trial, Talbot consistently invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions if they could implicate him in a criminal matter.

"He always made the argument that he was potentially open to prosecution in Massachusetts - which we were going to ask him about," Randall said.

Another Cheverus teacher and coach, Charles Malia, admitted in 2000 that he sexually abused students in 1978. Malia is not a priest, and Portland police could not find evidence to charge him with sexually abusing children since the statute of limitations expired.

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