Brooklyn Bishop Calls Allegations “Libelous,” SNAP Reacts
A New York Catholic prelate who is facing multiple allegations of child sexual abuse is lashing out at his accusers publicly, threatening to file a lawsuit against them. We condemn this intimidation tactic and challenge the bishop to fight the allegations on their merits in a court of law.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio – who has been accused by two different men who live in two different states and who have never met nor spoken with each other – is claiming the allegations against him are an “attempt to destroy my name and discredit what I have accomplished” and is threatening to take legal action against the two. In a statement, Bishop DiMarzio said “I have retained counsel and am contemplating filing a lawsuit against those responsible for these accusations, which have no basis in fact."
This is a shameful response. Bishop DiMarzio should defend himself without attacking his accusers. That is what Cardinal Joseph Bernardin did, and that is what any real shepherd would do. Suing accusers does nothing but intimidate other potential victims, witnesses and whistleblowers into staying silent.
Bishop DiMarzio also wrote that he is “ready, willing, and able to go to trial to defend myself.”
People often say this when accused of a crime. But there is a third option; instead of hiding behind carefully crafted public relations denials OR waiting for trials, accused abusers - if they're really 'willing' to tell their side of the story - could simply hold an open news conference and take questions from professional journalists. In light of Bishop DiMarzio's repeated pledges to be 'open' about abuse cases, we call on him to do this now.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan should speak out against this intimidation tactic and should immediately remove Bishop DiMarzio while these allegations are investigated. To do any less is to show that the Catholic Church will continue to circle the wagons around potential abusers instead of survivors.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)