Three former students of Arlington Catholic High School in Massachusetts have filed a lawsuit against Cardinal Seán O'Malley and other Church leaders, claiming that they failed to prevent abuse by the school's former vice principal, Stephen Biagioni.
In 2010 Cardinal O’Malley was one of the Catholic hierarchy named to oversee the apostolic visitation of certain dioceses and seminaries in Ireland the Church after the publication of the Ryan Report and the Murphy reports into abuses in the Church in Ireland.
The Catholic News Agency reports that the Boston lawsuit alleges that Biagioni abused the plaintiffs between 2011 and 2016 when they were between the ages of 15 and 17. The students accuse Biagioni of engaging in explicit sexual behavior and lewd conduct.
The Archdiocese of Boston stated that the allegations were reported to law enforcement when the high school became aware of them and that Biagioni was subsequently removed from his position.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who filed the lawsuit, pointed out Cardinal O'Malley's significant role in the Catholic Church as head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
In addition to Cardinal O'Malley, the lawsuit names Bishop Robert Deeley — whose parents were immigrants from Co. Galway, Bishop Peter Uglietto, and three other Church leaders as defendants. Biagioni, the former vice principal, is not named as a defendant in the suit. The lawsuit argues that Church leaders had a duty to properly supervise employees and ensure that they do not use their positions to exploit and assault vulnerable children. It alleges that the Church leaders either knew or should have known that Biagioni posed a danger to the students.
The lawsuit seeks accountability and claims that the Church leaders should have implemented proper safeguards to protect children in light of the history of sexual abuse within the Church. It remains to be seen how the legal proceedings will unfold in Suffolk County Superior Court.
Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley was born in Ohio. His parents on both sides were Irish. In June 2010, after being sent to Ireland along with others to oversee the apostolic visitation of certain dioceses and seminaries in Ireland, O'Malley was named as the visitor to the Archdiocese of Dublin and its dioceses of Ferns, Ossory, Kildare and Leighlin.
He reported back to the Holy See on what steps had been taken since the reports were issued, and what further steps were required.