Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio Exonerated by Vatican of Sexual Abuse Allegations

Nicholas DiMarzio, Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, New York, was exonerated by the Vatican of separate sexual abuse allegations made by two men while he was a priest in New Jersey 50 years ago, the Associated Press reported.

The Vatican has closed its investigation into the accusations, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, on Wednesday. It concluded the men's charges do "not have the semblance of truth." Both men have filed civil claims against the bishop, the AP said.

DiMarzio said in a statement that the sexual abuse allegations are false and that he "fully cooperated" with the investigation.

"I remain focused on leading the Diocese of Brooklyn as we are emerging from the darkness of the Coronavirus pandemic," he said. "I ask for your prayers as I continue to fight against the lawsuits stemming from these two allegations, and as I now look forward to clearing my name in the New Jersey state courts."

Mitchell Garabedian, the two men's lawyer, said in response to the exoneration that "the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which rendered the decision, is in the business of continuing the secrecy of clergy sexual abuse by hiding the truth," according to the AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
The Vatican has closed its investigation of sexual abuse charges against Nicholas DiMarzio, the bishop of Brooklyn, New York. Above, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, right, the archbishop of New York, hugs DiMarzio on April 6, 2012, in Brooklyn. Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Garabedian said the two accusers will continue to pursue their civil cases.

In his statement, DiMarzio said, "I repeat what I have said from the beginning. There is no truth to these allegations. Throughout my more than 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never abused anyone."

The Vatican's handling of the case was being closely watched because it was among the first to come under new procedures put in place two years ago by Pope Francis to address allegations of sexual abuse against some of the church's highest-ranking clergy

Critics, including the lawyer for his accusers, expressed concern that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of other bishops, would lack impartiality.

"The investigations concerning the credibility of my clients were subjective and biased because the investigators were controlled by and paid for by the Catholic Church," said Garabedian.

One of his accusers, Samier Tadros, said the abuse began when he was 6 years old and a parishioner at Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City. Tadros has demanded $20 million in compensation.

The AP does not typically identify victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward publicly, as Tadros has done.

In response to the allegations, Dolan hired a law firm to conduct an investigation. That inquiry was led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The findings were then forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for its review, which determined that the accusations were baseless.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, commonly known as SNAP, said it was not surprised by the Vatican's actions and urged New York Attorney General Letitia James to conduct its own investigation.

"Given Bishop DiMarzio's high rank in the Catholic Church—and especially given the fact that he had been tapped by Vatican leaders to investigate other prelates accused of wrongdoing—we believe true transparency and accountability will need to come from secular officials in New York and New Jersey, not Rome," SNAP said in a statement.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio with Pope Francis at Kennedy Airport in New York on September 24, 2015. Craig Ruttle/AP Photo