Probe Eyes 5 Jesuits Tied to BC High

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald
March 8, 2002

Prosecutors investigating clergy sex abuse are eyeing seven current and former Jesuits, including five associated with Boston College High School.

The Society of Jesus provided five of the names to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office yesterday and plans to produce the sixth within a week. The seventh was reported in the media but not to the order, it said in a statement.

The former Jesuit, John H. Acres, had a brief but stormy tenure in the admissions department at BC High.

"He was sick," said one former colleague. Another said he frequented gay bars - enough by itself to cause his ouster.

Acres moved on to jobs in secular colleges as he distanced himself from the Jesuits. He recently left the order officially.

He did not return telephone calls or e-mails to his office this week.

Two of the names handed over were of priests whose alleged misdeeds have already been reported:

The Rev. Frank McManus has been suspended from his chaplaincy at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford pending an investigation. He taught briefly at BC High.

The Rev. James F. Talbot, a former soccer coach at the elite preparatory school, has already been disciplined by the Jesuits.

The order revealed yesterday in a statement: "(He) had previously been relieved of his priestly duties and can no longer administer the sacraments of the church."

In a new development, a source with ties to BC High told the Herald that a supervisor confronted Talbot years ago with allegations he'd wrestled with boys wearing only athletic supporters, but Talbot and players denied it.

Administrator and teacher Stephen Dawber was suspended this week after allegations of abuse were reported.

Authorities refused to release the names of the three other accused Jesuits.

One of them was investigated by the state Department of Social Services after BC High reported him to the agency, the Jesuits said. He received a "warning."

The Jesuits said they scoured 30 years of records to arrive at the list. The alleged abuse took place from the mid-1970s to the late '80s.

While the identity of the alleged victim from each allegation was provided, prosecutors need further information to decide how to proceed, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said.

The Jesuits are being cooperative and have agreed to provide the information in a week, he added.

"My overriding concern is for the alleged victims. While we're reviewing the allegations, my office is available to help anyone who has been investigated."

The DA's office is also probing allegations involving 25 priests of the Archdiocese of Boston, he said. The Jesuits are the only religious order to come forward.

BC High expects to announce details of a hotline today for alumni who may have suffered abuse. Principal William Kemeza said calls have already come in - some with information and many expressing support.


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