Diocese Pays $200,000 to Clergy Abuse Victim
Lawyer Says Victim Was Molested in Church Rectory

December 2, 2009

ORTLAND, MAINE -- A lawyer has confirmed that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland made a $200,000 settlement on Nov. 5 with his client, who said she was molested by a priest in 1976 in the rectory of St. Michael's Church in South Berwick.

The priest was the Rev. James Vallely, said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, of Boston. The victim, who lives outside of New England, was 11 years old at the time and one of the first female altar servers in the state.

The settlement money came from insurance, said Sue Bernard, spokesperson for the diocese. The diocese received its first complaint about Vallely in 1978 and took action. It did not involve the victim in the settlement.

At least three other people, including the victim in the settlement, have said that Vallely sexuallly abused them, Bernard said.

Garabedian said that Vallely, who is deceased, served in parishes in Sheridan, Waterville, Machias, Limestone, Portland, South Portland and South Berwick. He added that secrecy was a common thread in clergy abuse cases, from supervisors of priests to any disciplinary action.

Garabedian said that he was contacted by three other people on Wednesday saying they also had been abused by Vallely.

The woman in the South Berwick case told about the abuse two years ago.

"The victim in this matter should be proud for coming forward, speaking the truth, giving courage to victims and making the world safer for children," Garabedian said.

Garabedian said he has represented more than 650 victims in clergy sexual abuse cases throughout the country since 1995.


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