Talbot Latest NH Priest to Be Accused

By Nancy Meersman
Union Leader (Manchester NH)
April 13, 2002

A 22-year-old Manchester man is seeking damages from the Rev. Francis Talbot for allegedly molesting him from the time he was 9 years old until he reached 16 and grew strong enough to fight off his assailant.

Talbot was listed as suspended when Bishop John McCormack identified 14 priests in February who had been accused of sexual misconduct over the past three decades and who were relieved of their pastoral duties.

A resident of 509 Lincoln St., Talbot did not return a telephone call. Previous news accounts said he was assigned to the State Prison for 10 years and had been close to retired bishop Odore Gendron.

The alleged victim, Cody Goodwin, 122 Wilson St., says he came to work for the priest because his aunt had been working for him. He worked as Talbot's assistant every Monday, doing odd jobs.

The lawsuit, filed by Concord attorney Charles G. Douglas III, notes that Talbot owns the home where he lives on Lincoln Street and "has bank accounts and other financial resources available to him despite having been a priest."

As the national scandal over alleged pedophile priests widens, numerous lawsuits have been threatened in New Hampshire; several have already been filed naming the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester as the defendant.

But Goodwin's lawsuit is believed to be the first one attempting to go after a priest's personal assets instead of the church's.

Manchester attorney Peter Hutchins says he suspects hundreds of victims may join his class-action lawsuit if it proceeds. Hutchins, who had six clients signed up when he filed the action Wednesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court, named the church as the defendant.

Craig Galluzo, 41, of Londonderry, the named plaintiff, alleges that he was molested as a pre-teen at our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in New London.

Galluzo, married and the father of three children, accuses former priest Robert J. Densmore as his abuser. Densmore has been identified by the Manchester diocese as a retired priest and a resident of St. Anne rectory. He was also reported to be a former chaplain at Elliot Hospital.

Nashua attorney Mark Rufo said he has nine clients who want to pursue legal action against the church for sexual assaults by priest.

Rufo filed an appearance in Hutchins' class-action suit yesterday in the event the court certifies the class and in the event his clients decide to go that route.

One of the alleged victims was molested while an altar boy at St. George's rectory in the early 1970s, Rufo said, adding that the priest was "transferred out of the area" around that time.

Another alleged victim claims to have been sexually abused in the late 1960s while he was a resident at the State Industrial School. This priest has left the state, Rufo said he believes.

Rufo said he is "keeping the channels open" with the diocese in the event any cases could be settled, but he doesn't expect that to happen. "I think it's more likely than not it will go forward." Rufo has not disclosed the names of the priests alleged to have sexually assaulted his clients, but some were on the list disclosed by the bishop and some, he said, were not.

On Monday, four separate lawsuits were filed against the church in Hillsborough County Superior Court by attorney Mark Abramson for plaintiffs who said they were abused as children by priests at rectories Manchester, Hudson, Keene and Somersworth.

Hutchins' class-action lawsuit alleges the church concealed sexual abuse of children for decades and instilled fear in the victims to keep them quiet.

Cody Goodwin's lawsuit alleges that he "was assaulted weekly on virtually every Monday night, but did what he could to attempt to reconcile what was happening to him as a child with the fact that Talbot was a priest of the Catholic Church and someone to be looked up to, respected and obeyed."

It says he thought the assaults were his fault until he turned 16 and was large enough to repel the priest's advances.

Talbot, the lawsuit alleges, threatened Goodwin, saying no one would believe him and "he might kill himself if Cody ever went public with the information concerning Talbot's sexual activities with him, including oral sex."

Goodwin was coded in Manchester schools as emotionally handicapped and his grades "suffered tremendously" during years he was employed by Talbot, the suit says.

It states Goodwin became aware of "the serious nature of what had happened to him" in the summer of 2000.

That was when he tried to commit suicide while a patient at a psychiatric center and was rushed to Elliot Hospital. He later voluntarily committed himself to the psychiatric ward at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and "on the fourth day attempted to hang himself." He subsequently was committed to the New Hampshire Hospital for two months.

The suit says during one of these hospital stays, Cody Goodwin was finally able to understand the acts he was subjected to and able to express in words what had happened to him as a young child. The year when Goodwin realized he was harmed could be important to the case in light of a six-year limit to sue. A Superior Court judge ruled in 1996 in a lawsuit against former priest Gordon McRae that the clock did not begin to run until the sexual abuse victim fully realized the harm that was done to him.


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