National News

‘Spotlight’ Attorney Drops Lawsuit Against Boston Priest

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian

By Christopher White, National Correspondent

MANHATTAN — A priest in the Archdiocese of Boston will return to ministry after attorney Mitchell Garabedian withdrew a lawsuit against him that claimed he sexually abused a minor 30 years ago after an independent review found the allegation to be unsubstantiated.

Garabedian, a prominent clergy abuse attorney, also said in November 2019 that he intended to bring suit against Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio over an allegation that he abused an altar boy nearly 50 years ago.

Bishop DiMarzio has consistently denied the allegation, and to date, Garabedian has not filed suit.

Father Peter Gori, the pastor of St. Augustine’s Church in Andover, Mass., has been reinstated in his role after the independent review and Garabedian subsequently withdrawing the suit.

According to the Boston Globe, the archdiocese hired the Praesidium Inc. to investigate the case, alongside the independent review board of the Augustinian Order of St. Thomas of Villanova, of which Gori belongs.

Gori will resume his duties as pastor in time for Palm Sunday, however, like all parishes throughout the archdiocese, St. Augustine’s has suspended public services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2019, Gori was removed from his post following accusations that he abused a minor in 1991.

Gori, who has maintained his innocence, said in a statement that all abuse allegations must be taken seriously and that he looks forward to returning to his position within the parish.

“I am very happy to return to my parish home of St. Augustine,” he said. “I have missed parish life and our wonderful parishioners. I am grateful to be able to begin with the promise of Easter at hand. Please pray for all victims of sexual abuse as they seek to heal and pray for our priests who serve the people of God joyfully.”

The Tablet reached out to Gori, but he declined to comment.

In reporting their findings, the outside investigators noted that the dates of the alleged abuse did not match with Gori’s assignment history and that the alleged victim, who is now in his 40s, did not recall specifics of the abuse and eventually declined to participate in any further investigation.

“The Church’s commitment to achieving a fair and just resolution is of critical importance in respecting the rights of all the parties involved,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is also the point man for Pope Francis’ Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“Fr. Gori has enjoyed over forty years of ministry as an Augustinian and in the Archdiocese of Boston. We join the parishioners of Saint Augustine’s in welcoming Fr. Gori home,” O’Malley said in a written statement.

Garabedian is presently facing potential defamation charges in another case in Pennsylvania following a ruling last month from a U.S. District judge that the attorney never intended to bring charges against a teacher his client accused of sexual abuse. That teacher maintains his innocence and despite multiple threats, Garabedian has yet to file suit after making public claims that he intended to do so, which the teacher claims have brought irreparable harm to his reputation.

As for Bishop DiMarzio’s case, his attorney, Joseph Hayden, told The Tablet in January that the Bishop looks forward to his day in court and the opportunity to defend himself if the suit is filed.

“Bishop DiMarzio is ready, willing and able to defend this lawsuit, as soon as the court will be able to hear the matter, because the allegation is not true,” Hayden said.