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Former Maine priest pleads guilty to sex crimes involving children

Eighty-year-old James Talbot pleaded guilty and confessed to assaulting a boy from Freeport back in the late 90s, when the victim was 8 and 9 years old. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) -- A former Maine priest has pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving a child in Maine.

Eighty-year-old James Talbot pleaded guilty and confessed to assaulting a boy from Freeport back in the late 90s, when the victim was 8 and 9 years old.

"He pled guilty and accepted responsibility for what he had done some 20 plus years ago," Defense Attorney Walt McKee said.

"This has been a long time coming for the victim and his family," Prosecutor Jennifer Ackerman said.

In 1991, the Maine legislature did away with the statute of limitations in cases of sexual assault, rape and incest.

Otherwise, Talbot could not have been charged.

"I believe there are more victims out there," Ackerman said.

Prosecutors say the former priest has a history of victimizing students, dating back to the 70s at a school in Boston.

He taught at Cheverus High School in Portland from 1980 until he was fired in 1998, when Cheverus student Michael Doherty accused Talbot of sexually assaulting him.

"It's just sad that there is another one," Doherty said.

Doherty filed a civil suit, but could not bring criminal charges due to the old statute of limitations.

"It's isolating, and you feel like you're alone," Doherty said.

Cheverus President Father Robert Pecoraro says "Today's guilty plea of James Talbot is justice for the victim. We hope this can be a starting point of healing for the victim and his family."

After the victim and his parents gave their impact testimony, the judge sentenced Talbot to three years in prison and six years’ probation.

"Every day that he spends behind bars is well deserved, and they are relieved that he will spend time there," Ackerman said.

Prosecutor Jennifer Ackerman argued for a longer sentence, but says the judge gave consideration to Talbot's age and his taking responsibility for what he'd done.

"He's prepared to move on, and hopefully the victim and family can move on as well," McKee said.

"From the state's perspective, Mr. Talbot should spend the rest of his life in prison," Ackerman said.

After his prison sentence is over, Walt McKee says James Talbot will serve his probation at the treatment center where he had been living and likely spend the rest of his days there.

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