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Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest James Talbot Faces New Sexual Assault Charges

father james talbot

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Catholic priest James Talbot was indicted earlier this month on charges of gross sexual assault. Talbot previously spent six years in prison after pleading guilty to raping two high school students.

Dennis Hoey, a reporter for the Press Herald, writes:

A former Jesuit priest who taught and coached at Cheverus High School for nearly two decades before being fired in 1998 is scheduled to be arraigned in Portland on charges he sexually assaulted a minor in Freeport nearly 20 years ago.

A grand jury indictment dated Nov. 9 and obtained by the Press Herald on Tuesday identifies the priest as 80-year-old James Francis Talbot of Dittmer, Missouri.

The indictment charges Talbot with gross sexual assault, a Class A offense, and with unlawful sexual contact, a Class C offense.

The indictment alleges that Talbot engaged in a sexual act with a minor and subjected the minor, who was 8 or 9 years old at the time, to sexual contact on or between May 1, 1997, and June 14, 1998.

The indictment said the alleged crimes took place in Freeport, but offered no information about a specific location, Talbot’s relationship to the minor, or why Talbot was in Freeport. It also was not clear why the charges are being brought now or whether this is the first time Talbot has been charged in Maine.

According to Maine statute of limitations, a prosecution for incest, unlawful sexual contact, sexual abuse of a minor, rape or gross sexual assault may be commenced at any time if the victim was not 16 at the time of the alleged crime.

The Boston Globe reported in October 2005 that Talbot pleaded guilty to raping and sexually assaulting two Boston College High School students in the 1970s and was sentenced to five to seven years in prison. Prosecutors said the assaults took place during wrestling practices.

When Talbot was accused of molesting the Boston College high students in 2002, the president of Cheverus said the school was unaware of the incidents in Boston when Talbot was hired in 1980.

“It was absolutely not known,” the Rev. John Keegan told the Press Herald in March 2002. “I was superior of the community and I would have heard. But there were no hints at all.”

Talbot served six years before he was released in 2011. He was ordered by the court to live out of state in a secure, monitored treatment facility.


Talbot was targeted in the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation into abuses that had occurred within the Catholic Church. The Globe’s investigation resulted in the movie “Spotlight” that told the story of how the newspaper uncovered the sex abuse scandal in the Boston church.

In a March 2002 Spotlight article, the reporting team said that Talbot coached wrestling at Boston College High School and that he engaged in a “bizarre habit” of wrestling with students who were in various stages of undress, including wearing only athletic supporters. He was transferred to Cheverus High School in 1980.

The Globe reported that Michael S. Doherty of Freeport filed a lawsuit against Talbot in 1997 for molesting him while he was a student at Cheverus. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, the Globe reported. No criminal charges were filed because the alleged abuse fell outside the statute of limitations at that time.



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