|Fr. James F. Talbot, S.J.|
Last week, Jim Higgins received a call that brought his back. Father James F. Talbot — a Jesuit priest who molested him when he was a teenager — is about to get out of prison, he was told by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. The target release date is March 18. Talbot is asking to serve a three-year probation period in an out-of-state treatment facility. Talbot will be free in a way his victims never will be, said Higgins, 55, who now lives in Florida. “He gets to heave a big sigh of relief. The rest of us are stuck with it, ’’ he said. In the early 1970s, Higgins had a part-time job at the rectory of the Immaculate Conception Church in Boston’s South End, where Talbot worked.
In 2003, Higgins was one of 14 men who were part of an approximately $5.2 million settlement of civil claims against Talbot. Most of the other plaintiffs were former students at Boston College High School, where Talbot taught history and economics and coached soccer and hockey from 1972 to 1980.
His victims said the priest encouraged them to wrestle one-on-one with him, sometimes clad only in jockstraps, and then forcibly molested them. In 1980, Talbot was transferred to the Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine. According to records kept by bishopaccountability.org, Talbot was removed from ministry and sent to St. Luke’s Center in Maryland in 1998, when a former student at Cheverus accused him of sexual abuse. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to the rape and assault of two boys who were BC High students in the 1970s. He was sentenced to five to seven years in prison.
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