Ex-priest who was fired from Cheverus, went to prison faces new sex charges in Maine
By Dennis Hoey
November 28, 2017
|James Talbot, a Jesuit priest at the time, is escorted into Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Sept. 19, 2002, for arraignment on charges of rape, and indecent assault and battery. |
Photo by Michael Dwyer
An indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges that James Talbot engaged in a sexual act with a minor in Freeport nearly 20 years ago.
A former Jesuit priest who taught and coached at Cheverus High School for nearly two decades before being fired in 1998 is scheduled to be arraigned in Portland on charges he sexually assaulted a minor in Freeport nearly 20 years ago.
A grand jury indictment dated Nov. 9 and obtained by the Press Herald on Tuesday identifies the priest as 80-year-old James Francis Talbot of Dittmer, Missouri.
The indictment charges Talbot with gross sexual assault, a Class A offense, and with unlawful sexual contact, a Class C offense.
The indictment alleges that Talbot engaged in a sexual act with a minor and subjected the minor, who was 8 or 9 years old at the time, to sexual contact on or between May 1, 1997, and June 14, 1998.
The indictment said the alleged crimes took place in Freeport, but offered no information about a specific location, Talbot’s relationship to the minor, or why Talbot was in Freeport. It also was not clear why the charges are being brought now or whether this is the first time Talbot has been charged in Maine.
According to Maine statute of limitations, a prosecution for incest, unlawful sexual contact, sexual abuse of a minor, rape or gross sexual assault may be commenced at any time if the victim was not 16 at the time of the alleged crime.
The Boston Globe reported in October 2005 that Talbot pleaded guilty to raping and sexually assaulting two Boston College High School students in the 1970s and was sentenced to five to seven years in prison. Prosecutors said the assaults took place during wrestling practices.
When Talbot was accused of molesting the Boston College high students in 2002, the president of Cheverus said the school was unaware of the incidents in Boston when Talbot was hired in 1980.
“It was absolutely not known,” the Rev. John Keegan told the Press Herald in March 2002. “I was superior of the community and I would have heard. But there were no hints at all.”
Talbot served six years before he was released in 2011. He was ordered by the court to live out of state in a secure, monitored treatment facility.
Talbot is a registered sex offender being held at the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Sex Offender Registry.
Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said her office asked the court to seal the indictment until Talbot’s arraignment, which could occur this week or next. But during a hearing that took place Tuesday between Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ackerman – she will be prosecuting the case – and Talbot’s defense attorney, Walt McKee of Augusta, Judge Deborah Cashman ordered the indictment unsealed.
“The judge unsealed the indictment on the basis that he is in police custody,” Anderson explained.
Anderson said that Talbot will be arraigned on Friday or Monday afternoon in Portland in Unified Criminal Court.
Anderson said her office asked that the indictment be sealed until authorities could make arrangements for Talbot to be extradited to Maine. Talbot was in the process of being transported to Maine on Tuesday.
His attorney, Walt McKee, of Augusta confirmed that his client has been charged with gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact. He was not sure when Talbot will be arraigned.
Anderson said her office is aware that Talbot’s appearance in a Portland courtroom might provoke some type of public protest.
“We realize this case is going to get a fair amount of attention and outrage,” Anderson said Tuesday night.
Talbot was targeted in the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation into abuses that had occurred within the Catholic Church. The Globe’s investigation resulted in the movie “Spotlight” that told the story of how the newspaper uncovered the sex abuse scandal in the Boston church.
In a March 2002 Spotlight article, the reporting team said that Talbot coached wrestling at Boston College High School and that he engaged in a “bizarre habit” of wrestling with students who were in various stages of undress, including wearing only athletic supporters. He was transferred to Cheverus High School in 1980.
The Globe reported that Michael S. Doherty of Freeport filed a lawsuit against Talbot in 1997 for molesting him while he was a student at Cheverus. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, the Globe reported. No criminal charges were filed because the alleged abuse fell outside the statute of limitations at that time.
Cheverus fired Talbot in 1998 following the abuse allegations.