Brooklyn Catholic Bishop DiMarzio denies ‘libelous’ accusations of abuse

CNA 511002bb559de 17504 2 Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn. CNA file photo

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn has denied a second allegation of sexual abuse, and said he is considering taking legal action for libel against his accusers. Both allegations relate to the bishop's time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark in the 1970s.

On Thursday, Associated Press reported that Samier Tadros had accused Bishop DiMarzio of sexual abuse, allegedly committed in the 1970s while DiMarzio was a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. 

"This is clearly another attempt to destroy my name and discredit what I have accomplished in my service to God and His people, including my efforts to fight the scourge of sexual abuse," DiMarzio said in a statement June 4. 

"I have retained counsel and am contemplating filing a lawsuit against those responsible for these accusations, which have no basis in fact. I am ready, willing, and able to go to trial to defend myself."

DiMarzio is already the subject of a Vatican ordered investigation, following the first allegation, made in November, 2019, which DiMarzio has also categorically denied.

In his statement on Thursday, Bishop DiMarzio said that "there is absolutely no truth to this allegation," which he characterized as "outrageous and libelous."

DiMarzio's lawyer, Joseph Hayden said in a statement released by the diocese that "We have uncovered conclusive evidence of Bishop DiMarzio's innocence."

"Both allegations against my client are more than 40 years old, and the accusers are each seeking 20-million dollars from the Newark Archdiocese. We have been investigating these claims and we have uncovered conclusive evidence of Bishop DiMarzio's innocence."

Hayden said he and the bishop "look forward to challenging these allegations in court or in any other proceeding. These 40-year-old allegations in pursuit of two 20-million-dollar legal claims are simply untrue and Bishop DiMarzio will never agree to a settlement of these claims."

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian is representing both accusers; Garabedian is known for providing legal representation to clerical sexual abuse victims. Despite making the accusations in public, the Diocese of Brooklyn confirmed to CNA that neither alleged victim has filed suit in court. 

In January, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Bishop DiMarzio's metropolitan archbishop, announced that the Vatican had instructed him to begin an investigation into the first accusation made against DiMarzio by Mark Matzek, a 56 year-old man, who claims that DiMarzio and another priest, now deceased, repeatedly abused him while he was an altar server at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in the Diocese of Newark in the 1970s.

Dolan's investigation is proceeding under the norms of Vos Estis Lux Mundi, a law promulgated by Pope Francis in 2019, which provides for accusations of abuse or related misconduct against a bishop to be undertaken on behalf of the Holy See by the local metropolitan. Associated Press reported on Tuesday that both accusers were prepared to cooperate with Dolan's investigation.

In January, a spokesman for Cardinal Dolan told CNA that the cardinal would be using experts to assist him in his task, but did not give a timeline for the investigation into DiMarzio.

"As is our practice, the cardinal will rely on outside professional forensic investigators to assist him in this matter," he said.

"The archdiocese will have no further comment on the matter while the investigation is undertaken."

According to the New York Post, Dolan has retained a risk management company founded by former FBI director Louis Freeh to assist in the investigation. 

The first allegation was made in November last year, shortly after DiMarzio himself had concluded a Vatican-ordered investigation of the Buffalo diocese which was mired in scandal and accusations of then-diocesan Bishop Richard Malone mishandling sexual abuse claims.

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At the time of the November accusation, DiMarzio said that "[i]n my nearly 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never engaged in unlawful or inappropriate behavior and I categorically deny this allegation."

Tadros, DiMarzio's second accuser, said he was repeatedly sexually abused by DiMarzio at Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City; Tadros said he was 6 years old when the abuse began.

In his statement on Thursday, DiMarzio said his record showed him to be a proven "leader in the fight against sexual abuse," noting that he was selected by the Vatican to investigate the Buffalo diocese last fall because of his "exemplary record."

DiMarzio also said that as bishop of Brooklyn he had created an independent reporting line that would send abuse claims in his diocese straight to the district attorney.

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