Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the longtime leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, sexually abused an 11-year-old altar boy during his tenure as a young priest in Jersey City in the 1970s, according to a lawyer who helped unleash Boston’s priest abuse scandal.
The lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, informed Catholic officials in New Jersey this week that he was preparing a lawsuit on behalf of a client who says he was molested by Bishop DiMarzio more than 40 years ago, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, which reported the accusation.
In the letter, according to The A.P., Mr. Garabedian says that his client, Mark Matzek, 56, claims that as an altar boy at St. Nicholas Church and student at St. Nicholas School, he was repeatedly abused by Bishop DiMarzio and a second priest.
Bishop DiMarzio denied the accusation unequivocally in a statement to The A.P.
“In my nearly 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never engaged in unlawful or inappropriate behavior and I categorically deny this allegation,” he said in the statement. “I am confident I will be fully vindicated.”
In a longer new statement issued by the diocese, he added: “There will be a legal process now and I will vigorously defend myself against this false allegation.”
Pope Francis chose Bishop DiMarzio to investigate the Buffalo, N.Y., diocese, where Bishop James Malone has come under criticism for how he has handled a mushrooming clergy abuse scandal. The matter has prompted calls for Bishop Malone’s resignation.
“The investigation of the diocese of Buffalo by Bishop DiMarzio is tainted because of these allegations,” Mr. Garabedian told The A.P.
The Brooklyn diocese encompasses Brooklyn and Queens.
Michael Gold contributed reporting.