Mitchell Garabedian'It's time for Bishop O'Malley to reveal what he has ... in those secret files ....'
-- Mitchell Garabedian

UPDATED May 24: Three people who say that they were sexually assaulted by a former vice principal at Arlington Catholic High School have filed a civil lawsuit against Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, leader of the Archdiocese of Boston.

WBUR and the Boston Herald reported the lawsuit, which is a new complaint following another filed last August. Both lawsuits allege that Stephen Biagioni abused the plaintiffs, known in the new complaint as John Doe I, II and III, between 2011 and 2016. The former students were between the ages of 15 and 17 at the time, their attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, told reporters Monday, May 22.

The civil suit names O'Malley and two of his top lieutenants — Bishop Robert Deeley, head of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, as well as Bishop Peter Uglietto, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston. The three allegedly “knew, or were negligent in not knowing” that Biagioni, who is not a priest or church leader, posed a danger to children at the high school, the suit claims.

"Once again, we have to look at the secret files to see what Cardinal O'Malley has for information concerning Stephen Biagioni and concerning what his supervisors knew," Garabedian said, according to WBUR.

"It's time for Bishop O'Malley to reveal what he has substantively in those secret files concerning the sexual abuse . . . of three innocent children."

Archdiocese said to cooperate

The archdiocese said that it does not comment on pending litigation. But its spokesman, Terry Donilon, in a statement said church officials understand certain allegations in the suit were brought to the attention of Arlington Catholic High School in 2016 and were reported to law enforcement and child-welfare authorities.

Biagioni, who was later promoted to principal, "was subsequently removed from his position," Donilon said, and staff from the high school and the archdiocese "cooperated fully with the investigating authorities.”

According to news reports, Biagioni was placed on administrative leave in 2016, pending the outcome of the investigation after a complaint from a Medford resident "related to events that may have happened during a Sunday detention at the school."

Defendants Deeley and Uglietto each hold the title of vicar general, second in command to the cardinal.

2022 lawsuit

Last August, another person represented by Garabedian filed suit accusing Biagioni of repeatedly sexually abusing him as a teen during detentions at Arlington Catholic High School between around 1999 until 2001.

Biagioni is not a named defendant in either lawsuit. Garabedian said Biagioni's alleged acts are being investigated by the Middlesex district attorney's office. Biagioni could not immediately be reached for comment, WBUR said.

The alleged victims in the new lawsuit are not named in the new lawsuit, and Garabedian said they did not wish to comment. The suit calls for a jury to determine whether and what damages may be owed to the plaintiffs, in addition to covering their legal fees.

Garabedian noted that O'Malley is the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. "Cardinal O'Malley has failed woefully in protecting children within the Archdiocese of Boston, never mind worldwide," he said.

Over roughly 20 years, Garabedian has represented dozens of victims in sexual abuse lawsuits against priests within the Archdiocese of Boston. 

Legal expert comments

“There is no doubt that the antennas of the Archdiocese of Boston that should have been raised very high because of their history, allowing sexual abuse to occur for decades upon decades . . . one would think by now they would have the proper safeguards in place to protect children,” Garabedian told The Boston Globe in May 23 news report.

One legal expert told The Globe the argument could have some merit: Emma M. Hetherington, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, said the “foreseeability of harm and duty to protect is heightened” because schools are charged with the care of children.

The Archdiocese of Boston should be taking steps not only to prevent future abuse, but also to identify present and past abuse, she said in an e-mail.

“Given the extensive and well-known history of child sexual abuse within Catholic institutions, particularly within the Archdiocese of Boston, there is no doubt that the archdiocese is on legal notice of past abuse, and can therefore reasonably foresee present and future abuse occurring within their institutions,” Hetherington said. 

Aug. 28, 2022: Arlington Catholic grad sues sues 3 former archdiocese priests


Feb. 4, 2016: AC principal put on leave, school statement says

This news summary was published Tuesday, May 23, 2023, based on information from WBUR and the Boston Herald as well as YourArlington's archives. It was updated May 24 with additions from The Boston Globe.