A Jesuit priest and coach plied three of his young soccer players with beer before challenging them to “aggression drills” — wrestling matches that were pretexts for rape in the 1970s, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The Rev. James Talbot, who coached at a Boston preparatory school, was indicted Tuesday on charges of rape, assault with intent to rape, indecent assault and battery. Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley announced the indictment Wednesday.
Talbot, 64, was to be arraigned Thursday. His attorney, Timothy O’Neill, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday. Talbot lives at a Jesuit residence in Weston. The phone was busy on repeated calls to the center Wednesday, and Talbot could not be reached.
Talbot allegedly initiated his soccer team at Boston College High School by inviting them, in groups or alone, to what he called “aggression drills” — wrestling matches on the padded basement floor of a school science building.
Conley said the three alleged victims, aged 14 to 17 at the time, were assaulted between 1977 and 1979. Talbot gave them beer, then pinned them down during the wrestling drills, the prosecutor said.
Talbot told one victim not to talk because no one would take his word over Talbot’s, Conley said.
“The power the defendant held … was not lost on him,” Conley said.
The statute of limitations in the Boston cases didn’t expire because the 20 years Talbot spent out of state doesn’t count against it, Conley said.
Roderick MacLeish, an attorney who represents 14 alleged victims of the priest, said school officials knew about the allegations when they transferred Talbot to Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, in 1980. A school spokesman said no one knew about the problems.
Allegations of abuse against Talbot first became public in 1997, when a former Cheverus student, Michael Doherty, filed a lawsuit accusing Talbot of molesting him in 1984 and 1985.
Talbot is the first New England priest from the Society of Jesus, one of the Catholic Church’s largest religious orders, to be prosecuted since the clergy sex abuse crisis started in January.
In a statement, the Society of Jesus of New England expressed “deep concern” for the victims and said Talbot has had no public ministry since 1998.