PORTLAND, Maine — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine, has settled a lawsuit by six men who said church leaders concealed sex abuse allegations against a former priest.
The victims settled for $1.2 million. Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian said Monday that the men were childhood victims of Father James Vallely decades ago.
Vallely served in several Maine parishes beginning in 1952. He retired in 1988 and died on Dec. 12, 1997, at the age of 75. The allegations cover the period from 1958 to 1977.
The lawsuits were filed in November by men from Maine, New Hampshire and New York.
The Boston Globe reported the men accused the diocese of covering up abuse by Vallely.
Garabedian, who has represented dozens of sex abuse victims, has said the Portland diocese had knowledge of multiple accusations but didn’t remove Vallely from ministry.
Garabedian said church leaders could have removed Vallely from ministry but instead chose to transfer him to another parish “where children were placed at risk of further sexual abuse by a serial pedophile priest.”
A spokesman for the Portland diocese said in a statement that it hopes the settlement “brings a measure of peace to the people involved,” though it will not address the charges directly.
“The diocese respects the privacy and confidentiality of the victims/survivors involved in cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics,” spokesman Dave Guthro said in the statement.