Update: In September 2021, a Vatican investigation cleared DiMarzio of the sexual abuse allegations against him. However, the accused bishop still faces several civil lawsuits filed by abuse survivors.
A Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn is now under investigation for two allegations of child sexual abuse. Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is facing a second claim of abuse, dating back several decades. The second accuser, Samier Tadros, filed a complaint against the bishop several months after the first allegation was made.
Second Accuser Files Abuse Lawsuit Against DiMarzio
Tadros claims Bishop DiMarzio sexually abused him in the 1970s. At the time, DiMarzio was a New Jersey parish priest. Tadros was roughly six years old when the abuse began.
Tadros is represented by attorney Mitchell Garabedian. According to Garabedian, Tadros came forward with his allegation after learning about the first accusation against DiMarzio.
First Allegation Against DiMarzio
Mark Matzek was the first person to accuse DiMarzio of child sexual abuse. Matzek claims the bishop sexually abused him while DiMarzio was a priest at St. Nicolas Church in New Jersey. At the time of the alleged abuse, Matzek was an 11-year-old altar boy for the St. Nicolas parish.
Matzek initially planned to file a legal claim against the bishop in November 2019. However, Matzek delayed his plan in order to participate in the archdiocese’s investigation of DiMarzio.
The alleged victims of DiMarzio live in different states. They have also never met one another. These facts may strengthen the allegations against the bishop because independence plays a role.
The two victims each plan on seeking $20 million in compensation.
DiMarzio Denies Any Wrongdoing
DiMarzio denies the accusations against him. Following the latest accusation, DiMarzio told The Associated Press, “There is absolutely no truth to this allegation. This is clearly another attempt to destroy my name and discredit what I have accomplished in my service to God and his people.”
DiMarzio’s attorney, Joseph Hayden, supported DiMarzio’s statement. He also suggested there is evidence to support DiMarzio’s innocence. DiMarzio’s legal team has not yet released this evidence.
According to Hayden, the bishop will not accept or agree to a settlement of the claims.
The Implications Of The Accusations Against DiMarzio
Bishop DiMarzio has a long history dealing with the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal. In 2003, DiMarzio became the bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn. His first major task was to settle sexual abuse allegations. He arranged payouts and handled lawsuits against the diocese.
He was also at the helm of the Diocese of Brooklyn when it released a list of credibly accused priests in early 2019. The list included more than 100 names.
In October 2019, Pope Francis appointed DiMarzio to lead an investigation of the Diocese of Buffalo. The investigation examined how abuse claims were handled under the leadership of Bishop Richard J. Malone.
According to Garabedian, “The investigation of the Diocese of Buffalo by Bishop DiMarzio is tainted because of these allegations.”
Vatican Exonerates DiMarzio
In September 2021, a Vatican internal investigation cleared DiMarzio of two allegations of child sexual abuse. In its report, the Vatican stated the sexual abuse allegations did not “have the semblance of truth.” Given the results of the investigation, DiMarzio will face no disciplinary action from the Catholic Church. The bishop still faces allegations and civil lawsuits filed by the survivors.
Tadros and Matzek will continue with their civil cases against DiMarzio. According to Dimarzio’s legal team, the bishop will not accept or agree to a settlement.
Following his exoneration by the Vatican, DiMarzio submitted his resignation to Pope Francis. Bishop Robert Brennan of Columbus, Ohio, has been appointed to fill the position. Brennan will be responsible for the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Updates To New Jersey Child Sex Abuse Laws
Tadros and Matzek were unable to file lawsuits against the bishop and the New Jersey dioceses until recently. In 2019, New Jersey state lawmakers passed a massive update to the state’s child sex abuse laws. In New Jersey, survivors of child sexual abuse now have until the age of 55 or no longer than seven years after recognizing harm occurred to file a lawsuit.
In addition to the new civil statute of limitations, New Jersey lawmakers opened a two-year “look back” window. During this window, abuse survivors may file expired cases against abusers or responsible Catholic dioceses. The window opened in December 2019.
Calvan, B.C. (2021, September 1). Vatican exonerates Brooklyn Bishop accused of sexual abuse. The Associated Press.
Rezendes, M. (2020, June 4). Brooklyn bishop accused by 2nd man of sex abuse in the 1970s. The Associated Press.
Shanahan, E. (2019, November 13). Bishop Named by Pope to Investigate Abuse Is Accused Himself. The New York Times.
(2021, September 29). Brooklyn bishop retires after Vatican clears him of abuse. The Associated Press.