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Lawyer: Letter Opens Door to More Lawsuits Against Diocese

By David Sharp, The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine - A lawyer says a newly revealed letter indicating Roman Catholic Church officials knew a Maine priest was allegedly abusing children in 1956 opens the door to lawsuits by additional victims.

Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian said the 2005 letter referring to abuse allegations against the Rev. James Vallely shows then-Bishop Daniel Feeney knew about Vallely's abuse earlier than previously stated. He says that disclosure opens the door to lawsuits against the Portland diocese by victims who previously were shut out by Maine's statute of limitations.

Garabedian, who already settled one fraudulent concealment case, said he's representing five of Vallely's victims from the 1960s and 1970s. Vallely died in 1997.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley on Tuesday acknowledged past mistakes and said church leaders must "do everything possible to see that history does not repeat itself.''