Maine diocese to pay woman $200,000 in abuse settlement

Posted Dec. 02, 2009, at 10:56 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:41 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The lawyer for a woman who says she was molested by a Maine priest when she was a girl says the church has agreed to a $200,000 settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

The woman says she was abused by the Rev. James Vallely in 1976 when she was 11 years old and one of the first female altar servers in Maine.

Vallely served throughout Maine, including South Berwick where the girl lived.

The diocese has previously acknowledged there were credible abuse allegations against Vallely. He died in 1997.

The diocese said in 2005 that Vallely would have been fired if he had lived.

The woman’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, says the church knew or should have known Vallely was a sexual predator.

He says the victim did not sue the diocese, but was prepared to.

Vallely, a native of Sanford, was a priest in Washington state after his ordination in 1949. In 1952, he was incardinated, a process which received him as a diocesan priest under the jurisdiction of the Maine bishop. He served in a variety of parishes around the state, and retired from St. Michael’s Parish in South Berwick on June 30, 1988.

Vallely served at St. Dominic’s as associate pastor for 11 years, from 1956 to 1967. When he came to Maine in 1951, he began as an associate at St. Joseph’s in Waterville. He served for two months in 1953 at St. Mary’s in Bangor, and then for three years at St. John’s in Bangor, just before going to St. Dominic’s. At St. John’s, he was spiritual director of the junior praesidium, and also for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, which included catechism classes for public school children, adult study clubs and a parent-educator program.

After leaving St. Dominic’s, Vallely served as temporary administrator at St. Louis in Limestone 1967-68, then was pastor at Holy Name in Machias for six years before his final pastorate of 14 years at South Berwick.

He retired to Florida and died in 2001.

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