Priest to Plead Guilty to Molesting Teens

Associated Press, carried in Telegram & Gazette [Boston MA]
January 10, 2005

A Catholic priest has agreed to plead guilty Tuesday to charges he sexually assaulted teenagers while he was a teacher and coach at Boston College High School, prosecutors said.

The Rev. James F. Talbot, 67, faces up to seven years in state prison under a plea agreement between his attorney and prosecutors, said David Procopio, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley.

Talbot is expected to plead guilty to one count of rape, one count of assault with intent to rape, and three counts of assault and battery.

He allegedly assaulted two students during wrestling drills between December 1977 and the spring of 1979.

Talbot is believed to be the first member of the Society of Jesus of New England, known as Jesuits, to be prosecuted on sex abuse charges.

The Jesuits, one of the Catholic Church's largest religious orders, are noted educators who operate many colleges and secondary schools, including Boston College and BC High.

Talbot went to the state Supreme Judicial Court in an effort to shield prosecutors from his personnel files, which included communications between Talbot and his superiors. The high court last year rejected that request.

Under the plea agreement, prosecutors and Talbot's attorney will recommend a 5-to-7-year state prison sentence, Procopio said.

Talbot's lawyer, Timothy P. O'Neill, did not immediately return a call to comment. Talbot, indicted in 2002, has been out on bail and living at the Campion Center, a Jesuit center in Weston. A message left for him Monday evening was not immediately returned.

One victim was 16 at the time of alleged assault, and the other was between 15 and 17.

Talbot had left the state after the alleged offenses.

"That froze the statute of limitations," Procopio said.

Talbot joined the Jesuits in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1968. He taught at BC High from 1972 to 1980, and then went to teach at Jesuit-run Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine.

In 1998, a former Cheverus student accused Talbot of sexual abuse. The Jesuits placed Talbot on leave and sent him to St. Luke's Institute, a private Catholic psychiatric hospital in Maryland, where many priests have sought treatment following abuse allegations against them.


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