Man Settles Lawsuit against Rev. Francis Talbot

By Nancy Meersman
Union Leader (Manchester NH)
April 16, 2003

Cody Goodwin has settled his civil lawsuit against the Rev. Francis Talbot, a Roman Catholic priest who is serving a 10 to 20 year prison term for sexually abusing Goodwin as a child.

"It's over," said attorney James Connor, who represented Talbot. Neither he, nor the other parties, would discuss the terms of the settlement, saying it was confidential.

As part of the settlement, Goodwin, a 24-year-old Manchester resident, is dropping his efforts to rescind an agreement with the Manchester Diocese in a previous lawsuit. The documents Goodwin signed in that case released the church and Talbot of liability and paid Goodwin $200,000.

Talbot was employing the release as a barrier, contending it protected him from a further lawsuit. Goodwin's lawyer, Chuck Douglas of Concord, was trying to have the agreement dissolved, contending Goodwin was in extreme emotional distress when he signed it and was incapable of understanding he was signing his rights away.

A hearing had been scheduled in the case this week in Hillsborough County Superior Court at which the church's attorney, Bradford Cook, as well as the Rev. Edward Arsenault, chancellor, the Rev. John Quinn and possibly Bishop John McCormack were potential witnesses.

Connor, Talbot's lawyer, was trying to force the church to defend Talbot because the latter, he said, had no part in crafting the settlement and did not sign it.

"We have settled the litigation between the church and Father Talbot. It was an amicable resolution of our differences," said Douglas, who declined to discuss whether any money was paid.

Goodwin, he said is "very pleased with how it worked out. He's also pleased that Father Talbot's in prison and that he's being held to account for what he did."

Talbot, a former chaplain at the Youth Development Center and at the state prison in Concord, pleaded guilty to five felony sexual assault counts involving Goodwin. He was accused of abusing Goodwin as a child when he was sent to Talbot's home to do chores. The abuse started when Goodwin was 9 years old and didn't end until he was 15 and strong enough to rebuff the advances, according to the lawsuit.

Douglas last year attached Talbot's Manchester home and bank accounts for a total of $500,000. The attachments were discharged last month, according to records at the Hillsborough County Registry of Deeds.


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