National News

‘Spotlight’ Attorney Faces Defamation Charges

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian

By Christopher White, National Correspondent

MANHATTAN — Prominent attorney Mitchell Garabedian may face defamation charges following a ruling from a U.S. District judge that Garabedian never intended to bring charges against a teacher his client accused of sexual abuse. That teacher maintains his innocence.

Judge Jan DuBois of the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania said in an opinion this week that statements Garabedian made to an employer of a man he was threatening to sue could void the judicial immunity given to lawyers.

In what has the potential to be a similar situation, it was Garabedian who in November of 2019 told the Associated Press that he intended to bring a lawsuit against Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn for an allegation of abuse nearly 50 years ago when the bishop was a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark. Bishop DiMarzio has consistently denied this allegation.

Nearly four months later, however, Garabedian has yet to file a lawsuit. Bishop DiMarzio’s attorney says the bishop stands ready to defend himself.

“We look forward to the filing of the lawsuit so Bishop DiMarzio can have his day in court,” Joseph Hayden told The Tablet in January. “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.”

When asked by The Tablet on Jan. 30 why there had been a delay, Garabedian replied that he’s “just preparing” the lawsuit.

According to The Legal Intelligencer, the oldest daily law journal published in the U.S., the case in Pennsylvania circles around whether Garabedian ever intended to bring a suit against the teacher.

Garabedian had sent two letters to the headmaster of the school where the plaintiff worked 25 years prior. The Legal Intelligencer also reported that in Garabedian’s. original letter to the headmaster, he alleged that his client had been abused by a teacher and demanded $1 million to settle the claims.

Garabedian then reportedly sent a follow-up letter in response to a request by an attorney for the school who had asked for additional information, further describing. the alleged abuse. According to the letters, the abuse allegedly occurred from approximately 1993 until 1995 in the alleged victim’s geometry classroom.

In March 2019, the school sent Garabedian a final notice warning that if he did not contact them, they would assume the defendants did not intend to pursue the claims. According to the lawsuit, Garabedian never responded.

An attorney for the teacher says that Garabedian never intended to file suit and that the allegations have brought irreparable harm to his client.

“The court now concludes that there is a factual dispute as to the application of the judicial immunity privilege to the statements made by the Garabedian defendants in the two letters because, according to the second amended complaint, the statements were not made ‘in the regular course of preparing for contemplated proceedings,’” Judge DuBois wrote in his opinion for Doe v. Garabedian.

“Accordingly, the court grants the motion for reconsideration,” he concluded.