Supreme Court snubs priest defamation suit against Diocese

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his contention that the diocese shouldn’t be allowed to use the First Amendment as a shield to avoid his claims that it defamed him by calling him a mentally unstable liar.

Nearly four years after Rev. John Gallagher insisted he was removed from a parish for reporting a pedophile priest, his lawsuit against the Diocese of Palm Beach on Monday came to an abrupt and unemotional end.

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his contention that the diocese shouldn’t be allowed to use the First Amendment as a shield to avoid his claims that it defamed him by calling him a mentally unstable liar.

“It’s all over,” said attorney Ted Babbitt, who represented Gallagher. “We have nowhere else to go. I don’t think The Hague will hear it.”

While Gallagher is still a priest, his status with the diocese is unclear, Babbitt said. Gallagher has been on sick leave since he suffered a heart attack that he blames on the stress of being publicly maligned for reporting what he believed was a concerted effort to hide illicit activity by a visiting priest.

“It’s now up to the church,” Babbitt said. “I fear further retribution within the church. I don’t think suing the church constitutes a sin, but it will be up to the bishop and their own internal rules to decide what to do.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the diocese said officials were pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We have made clear throughout this unfortunate litigati...

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