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Former teacher to plead guilty

The Rev. James F. Talbot, a Jesuit priest who taught at BC High between 1972 and 1980, agreed to serve five to seven years in state prison for three counts of assault and battery, one count of rape, and one count of assault with intent to rape, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a telephone interview.

''This is a fair result to the victims and one that they approve of," Conley said. ''We hope this helps them find closure. Given the offenses, his age, and input of the victims, the Commonwealth is satisfied that this is a substantial penalty." Talbot, of Weston, could not be reached yesterday, and his lawyer did not return calls.

Prosecutors would not identify the victims, except to say that they were between 15 and 17 years old when Talbot allegedly assaulted them. Conley described one or more of the assault counts as involving ''improper touching."

At BC High, where the abuse allegedly took place between December 1977 and the spring of 1979, officials said they hope the priest's imprisonment consoles the victims.

''This has been very painful for the victims," said Bill Kemeza, president of BC High. ''Our prayers and our desire for healing go out to them."

Conley said he does not know why Talbot decided to plead guilty, but he said that a trial would have been likely within the year.

He also argued that the case underscores why the state's statute of limitations should be banned for child sexual abuse cases. The only reason Talbot did not escape charges, Conley added, was because he spent years living outside Massachusetts. If someone remains in the state, charges must be brought in child sexual abuse cases within 15 years of the victim's 16th birthday or within 15 years of when the assault was reported, he said.

''If Talbot lived here his entire life, he would have escaped accountability," Conley said. ''In this case, as in others like it, it took the victims a long time to come to grips with their abuse and to come forward."

Over the years, prosecutors said, Talbot served as a priest in Maine, Puerto Rico, and Europe.

While living in Maine, he allegedly abused and agreed to financial settlements with three students at Cheverus High School in Portland, said Paul Kendrick, co-founder of the Maine chapter of the Voice of the Faithful and a longtime advocate for the victims.

Kendrick said Talbot could not be tried for the alleged abuse in Maine because of the state's statute of limitations. He also said he thinks the sentence is not sufficiently severe.

''Talbot committed a crime," Kendrick said. ''I think for all the damage he did, five to seven years in prison certainly doesn't seem to equal the damage he's done to all these kids, who have to live with the abuse each and every day." 



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