15 men reach settlement on abuse claims

Associated Press/January 10, 2003

Boston -- Fifteen men who said they were abused by clergy who taught at two Jesuit-run high schools in New England have settled their claims, their laywer said.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish did not disclose the dollar amounts of the settlements but called them "fair and equitable." The Boston Globe reported Friday that the settlements totaled $5.8 million and ranged from $75,000 to more than $1 million.

Eleven of the men claimed they were abused while they were students at Boston College High School in the 1970s and early 1980s. Ten men named the Rev. James F. Talbot, a hockey and soccer coach, and the other cited the Rev. Francis J. McManus.

Talbot's accusers said he wrestled them one on one, often pinning them to the floor.

"We hope that those who have been hurt, the brothers and sons of the BC High family, receive some consolation through this settlement," William Kemezza, president of Boston College High, said in a statement to WCVB-TV.

Talbot, 64, was also accused by the other four alleged victims. Two worked as teenagers at a Jesuit residence in Boston where Talbot lived, and two were students at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, where Talbot later taught.

Talbot and McManus did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Talbot pleaded innocent in September to rape and assault charges. Prosecutors said that in the 1970s, he plied three of his Boston College High soccer players with beer before challenging them to "aggression drills" - wrestling matches that were pretexts for rape.

Talbot taught at Boston College High from 1972 to 1980, then transferred to Cheverus. He was removed from there in 1998 after a 16th man, Cheverus graduate Michael Doherty, filed a lawsuit in Maine. That case was settled in 2001.

The new settlements were reached individually, and the last was completed Thursday night, MacLeish said.

MacLeish called the discussions "exemplary," saying officials from Boston College High and the Jesuit order, known as the Society of Jesus, spoke at length with alleged victims and their families.

"It was done individually, it was done with humanity, in a way that didn't pit people against each other," said MacLeish, who also represents 247 alleged victims of clergy sex abuse suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

The costs of the settlements will be shared by the two high schools, the Jesuit New England province, the Diocese of Portland and several insurance carriers, the Globe reported.

In a related matter, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester released a financial report showing that it and its insurance companies have spent more than $2.1 million to settle sexual abuse allegations dating back several years.

Insurance paid about $1.3 million; the remainder was paid by the Worcester diocese.

To help cover its losses, the diocese has closed a home for people with AIDS.

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