3 Say Ex-Priest Abused Them

Orlando Sentinel (Florida)
March 5, 1993

A retired Roman Catholic priest now living in the Orlando area has been suspended amid allegations he sexually abused as many as three children more than 30 years ago in Maine, officials said Thursday.

The Rev. James P. Vallely, 71, was suspended from duties Wednesday after being interviewed by a top official from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

The sexual abuse allegations against Vallely, a former priest from St. Dominic's parish in Portland, recently were reported by a Maine television station. Two men, one of them a former altar boy, told the station that the priest abused them 30 years ago. A third came forward Wednesday.

Marc Mutty, spokesman for the Portland diocese, said that although Vallely is retired, he still presided over one Mass a week at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Winter Springs and has filled in at other parishes in the Orlando area.

Bishop Joseph Gerry of Portland and Bishop Norbert Dorsey of Orlando suspended the priest after he was interviewed by the Rev. Michael Henchal, the Maine diocese's chancellor, Mutty said. Until an investigation can be completed, suspension is required when a priest is accused of sexual abuse.

"He has been asked not to perform any public ministry in the diocese, which would be standard prodedure for any situation like this," said Sister Lucy Vazquez, chancellor of the Orlando diocese. "It's not any kind of admission of guilt. It's just saying we need time. Time is needed to look into all this."

One of the alleged victims, Lawrence Gray, 45, is now a chiropractor living in Yarmouth, Maine. Gray said he was abused weekly for two to four years by Vallely in St. Dominic's and in the church rectory during the late 1950s, beginning when he was about 9.

Gray, who wanted his name made public, said he told diocesan officials about the abuse as part of a "healing process" and so other sexual abuse victims would know that they can seek help.

The second alleged victim had mentioned the abuse in passing after contacting diocesan officials on Jan. 20 to discuss another matter, Mutty said. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, told officials that Vallely repeatedly abused him at the same church about 30 years ago, Mutty said.

A third man called the diocese on Wednesday to say he had been sexually abused by Vallely at about the same time, Mutty said. Diocesan officials were making arrangements to hear his story, he said.

Mutty said Thursday that a decision concerning Vallely's case may be made within two months. During that time, he is urged to seek a psychological evaluation.


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