SPECIAL Report: Symbols of Suffering
By Kelli O'Hara
March 30, 2016
Sex abuse victims said they were forced to relive their trauma after learning their church was honoring the priest who they said abused them.
At Saint Martha's in Kennebunk, Maine, a plaque on the wall thanks dozens of people for their donations. One of the names on the plaque is Father James Vallely.
Vallely, who was a priest at the Maine Archdiocese starting in 1952, was accused of sexually abusing at least nine children before he died in 1997. Despite the accusations, he was never prosecuted or defrocked. The church listed him on the plaque for donating money for its stained glass windows.
"It goes to show the lack of compassion," said Jim Tremble, a former altar boy. Tremble said he was 13 years old when Vallely raped him in the backseat of his car. "I was threatened after it was over and I never said a word."
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian is representing Tremble and others who are suing the Archdiocese, saying Vallely abused them. He said he wants to know why Vallely's name was allowed to remain on the wall until recently.
"Can you imagine being a victim of Father Vallely or any priest or a victim of sexual abuse and having to stomach this plaque being up there?" said Garabedian.
The plaque has been taken down by the church's pastor, Father Tom Murphy. He admitted he was embarrassed for not realizing the history of Vallely's name and took it down when someone complained.
"We're living through the dangers and the problems of the scandal and would never want to add to their burden," said Murphy.
When asked for comment, the Archdiocese of Maine told 7News that anyone who feels they have been abused should contact them.
Statement from Diocese of Portland:
The Diocese of Portland respects the privacy and confidentiality of the victim/survivors involved in cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics. We maintain that privacy and confidentiality even if an individual or their legal representation chooses to discuss their situation publicly.
As always, Bishop Deeley encourages anyone who may have information about any case of sexual abuse of a minor by a church representative to contact civil authorities and Michael Magalski, Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the Diocese of Portland, at 207-321-7836 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.