Six men have sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine, claiming church leaders concealed allegations that a priest sexually abused children for decades.

The suits were filed in November by men from Maine, New Hampshire and New York and were made public this week. They accuse the diocese of covering up abuse by the Rev. James Vallely. The men say Vallely sexually abused them as children from 1958 to 1977.

Their lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said Tuesday that the suits claim the church "fraudulently concealed" Vallely's abuse.

The concealment claim opens the way to sue even though the statute of limitations for sexual abuse has expired.

A diocesan spokesman says he can't comment on a pending lawsuit. A call to the diocese's lawyer wasn't immediately returned.

Vallely died in 1997.