Mitchell Garabedian: Ambulance Chaser or Champion for Sexually Abused Kids?

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rosaryOne day after Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian posted on his firm’s website a list of 117 Catholic priests and other church workers who, he said, were named in sexual abuse complaints for which he has obtained settlements or arbitration awards, critics are wondering whether he did the right thing.

Frustrated that Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley reneged on his promise almost two years ago to release a list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children in the Archdiocese of Boston, Garabedian -- who said he has represented more than 750 victims of sexual abuse by clergy -- took matters into his own hands.

He said he was acting in the best interest of the victims, survivors, and their families -- but was he?

It's tempting for critics to accuse Garabedian of being an ambulance chaser. But if we are to believe the victim advocacy groups -- and in this case, why shouldn't we? -- it seems Garabedian's heart was in the right place. The groups have made such a list their top priority in the hopes that the publication of the names will help to protect victims.

Terence McKiernan, co-director of BishopAccountability.org (which tracks sexual abuse by Catholic clergy around the United States but did not have 18 of the names on Garabedian's list), explains:

It’s not just about safety of children in the future, it also enables people who have been suffering terribly from past abuse to come forward.

Moreover, as Garabedian maintains, the publicly naming of the credibly accused priests is a necessary step in the victims' healing process. In addition, he argued that the church, by not naming the abusers, retains an advantage over victims:

If you bring a claim and you say, "X molested my client," they can say, "Well, we have never heard of X molesting a child before."

Garabedian hopes that a public list will level the playing field in future settlement agreements. After all, dioceses across the country -- including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Chicago -- have lists of credibly accused abusers. Why should Boston be any different?

For its part, the archdiocese of Boston says that its process for dealing with sexual abuse includes: immediately reporting all allegations to local law enforcement; publicly disclosing when a member of the clergy is removed from active ministry pending an investigation; and publicly disclosing when a priest is convicted of the sexual abuse of a minor as the result of a criminal process.

In other words, if a priest is convicted of sexual abuse, then they are publicly disclosed. But if they are "only" credibly accused, the church does not disclose their names.

And for many victims, their families, and Garabedian, this policy simply isn't good enough.

Do you think Garabedian did the right thing by releasing the list?

 

Image via Rchard/Flickr

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Bob Schwiderski

Mr. GARABEDIAN DID THE RIGHT THING!  There is no doubt in my mind - he has done more for protecting the children of today and those yet to be born than any top official in the Catholic church in the USA.

nonmember avatar SNAPnetwork

How can publicly exposing child predators possibly be anything but positive?

It protects kids. It helps victims heal. It may help prevent child sex crimes. And it will deter future cover ups of child sex crimes. (Why risk prosecutions, lawsuits, and shame by concealing child sodomy and rape, if it looks like eventually the truth will surface anyway?)


David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Sofia... SofiaKennedy

Mr. Garabedian absolutely did the right thing, something the archdiocese should have done long ago.  He is simply listed the names of those involved in claims which were found credible, by church officials, arbitrators and plaintiffs' lawyers.  The church settled claims regarding these priests.  Just the fact.


He has more courage, and has done more to help victims and protect kids, then the church has done or will ever do, given their history.  He always keeps the victims, the truth, and the pursuit of accountability as his top priority (again, unlike the church leaders).

starl... starlight1968

if there has been a legal case against the person on his list that came with a guilty plea (the priest accepted it) then by ALL MEANS POST THE NAME for the public to see. 


I hope it brings enough SHAME on them, the chruch etc. to do a better job with how they handle them....

nonmember avatar Suzy

For almost 250 years, no one in America voluntarily disclosed names of child predators. And millions of girls and boys have been devastated because of child sex crimes.

Starting in 2002, under tremendous pressure from horrific scandal, a handful of US bishops have posted dozens of predators' names. One Boston group has posted thousands (BishopAccountability.org). One Boston attorney (Mitchell Garabedian) just posted dozens more.

A few find fault with the notion of warning citizens about proven, admitted and credibly accused predators. My recommendation: Let's try this approach for a decade or two and see whether it makes kids safer. My hunch is that it certainly will.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

I don't care what his motives were - I support what he did.  The arrogance of the Church astounds me - they continue to hide or withhold the truth, continue to enable and protect their priests, continue to marginalize the victims.  I'd love to see a list of not only the accused priests, but a list of the superiors and others who knew of the abuse and allowed it to continue.


 

madja... madjanssen

If it weren't priests or anyone involved in the church, there wouldn't be any controversy or discussion about it.  He absolutely did the right thing and I am sure he has the support of a lot of people even if some disagree with him. I know that if someone knew of a child predator in my midst, that person would have enough compassion and common sense to tell me, publicly or otherwise, so I may take the extra precaution to protect my child.

nonmember avatar hatehim

Mitchell Garabedian has brought back the time when there were salem witch trials in this country. His is an ambulance chaser who salivated big time when he heard about Scott Browns past. Just because he finds this so called abused people does not make them guilty. The church was wrong and all of these should have been tried in a court of law. None of these priests were given a chance to defend themselves against false accusations as our court system allows. If they had gone to court Mitchell Garabedian would have backed down as he knows almost 100% of his clients are liars. I can go so far as to show you about abuse, I could falsely accuse Mitchell Garabedian of sexually abusing me as a child. As soon as I throw that out there he would then be forced to defend himself. I hate seeing people not getting the right to trial but still forced to defend themselves. So again none of these men were ever convicted in a court of law. It was out of their hands as the church just forked over money. I know one young priest that was setup a few years ago by some girls in a high school (they had a crush on him) and he had to step down from his position. He did nothing wrong and would not leave this man alone. People are cruel and Mitchell Garabedian is not a saint he is the devil.

nonmember avatar Jason Taylor

I hired Garabedian to help me with my sex abuse case against a priest in 2010. He lost my whole file and had to begin a year later. Then after he sent a huge demand letter to the Diocese, who told him they never have paid compensation to sex abuse victims and never will, he just gave up, I never heard from him again. He refuses to take my calls and letters are not returned. He as well as Bob hoatson and all the other assholes trying to capitalize from other people's misery can all go to hell. You people are worse than the priests who abused us,

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