Washington D.C., Mar 11, 2021 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn says that a second sex abuse lawsuit filed against him is an attempt to destroy his reputation, and maintains his innocence.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in New Jersey Superior Court, Mark Matzek of New Jersey claimed to have been abused by DiMarzio and another priest – now-deceased – at St. Nicholas parish in Jersey City in the 1970s. Metzak says the abuse occurred when he was an altar boy.
“This lawsuit contains the same false allegations made 16 months ago with a demand for $20 million,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a statement provided to CNA on Thursday.
In November, 2019, Metzak’s lawyer Mitchell Garabedian sent a letter to the Brooklyn diocese alleging that Metzak was abused by DiMarzio. Garabedian said he was preparing a lawsuit on behalf of Matzek seeking $20 million. DiMarzio had just finished a Vatican-ordered investigation into the Diocese of Buffalo over accusations of episcopal mishandling of clerical sex abuse cases there.
After that first allegation, DiMarzio was the subject of a Vatican-ordered Vos Estis investigation, conducted by his metropolitan archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
A second accuser went public in June, 2020. Samier Tadros accused DiMarzio of abuse committed in 1979 and 1980. DiMarzio said at the time that he had retained legal counsel and was considering filing a lawsuit over the “libelous” claims.
Tadros filed a lawsuit against DiMarzio in February, 2021. He said DiMarzio abused him repeatedly while he was a priest at Holy Rosary parish in Jersey City. Tadros is also seeking $20 million.
Garabedian, a Boston attorney known for representing clerical sex abuse victims, is representing both Tadros and Matzek.
He said it was “prudent” to file the lawsuit at this time, as the Vatican investigation into Metzak’s allegation could take years, according to NorthJersey.com.
“There is no merit to any of these claims,” DiMarzio told CNA. “I took a lie detector test on this matter and my conscience is clear. These false accusations are an attempt to smear my 50-year ministry as a priest.”
Garabedian said that DiMarzio’s lie detector test was not reliable and would not be admissible in court, according to NorthJersey.com.
DiMarzio said in his statement to CNA that “the priesthood has been my life” and that he has “faith in the Lord that the truth will prevail.”
Joseph A. Hayden, Jr., DiMarzio’s attorney, said that his client will “never settle this case because he is innocent” and that the bishop “looks forward to a trial before a jury of his peers.”
“Bishop DiMarzio volunteered to take and has passed a lie detector test with respect to this allegation and his categorical denial of the claim was found to be truthful by an independent retired law-enforcement polygrapher of national stature,” said Hayden in a statement provided to CNA.
Hayden said that the canonical investigation into DiMarzio was conducted “by an independent, prestigious law firm” and has been sent to Rome for further analysis and a decision. DiMarzio cooperated with the investigators, he said.
“The bishop met with the investigators and answered each and every question asked of him,” said Hayden, adding that they are awaiting the decision from the Vatican tribunal.
DiMarzio was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark in 1970. He was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Newark in 1996, and served as bishop of Camden from 1999 until 2003. DiMarzio was installed as the bishop of Brooklyn on Oct. 3, 2003.
New Jersey in 2019 suspended the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse lawsuits, allowing for a two-year window for lawsuits to be filed in old cases of abuse.