Brooklyn bishop accused in decades-old sexual assaults

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old altar boy at a parish in New Jersey more than 45 years ago.
File photo

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio sexually abused an 11-year-old altar boy at a New Jersey congregation more than 45 years ago, according to Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian.

The victim, 56-year-old Mark Matzek, suffered repeated abuse at the hands of DiMarzio over a roughly yearlong period between 1974 and 1975, when he was both an altar boy at St. Nicholas Church and a student at St. Nicholas school in Jersey City, Garabedian claims.

The attorney refused to describe the nature of the assault, citing ethical concerns, but says that Matzek was also abused by another priest, the late Rev. Albert Mark, during the same period, and that both clergymen acted independent of each other. 

“They abused my client individually, not together,“ said Garabedian. “This is just further evidence that the church is purportedly the most moral institution in the world, yet acts most immorally. It is complicit in the wholesale sexual abuse of children.”

In addition to overseeing the spiritual welfare of Brooklyn and Queens partitioners as head of the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, DiMarzio was tasked by Pope Francis with investigating Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, who is himself accused of mishandling abuse claims targeting clergy within the upstate diocese.

DiMarzio denied the allegations in a statement, and defended his reputation as a crusader against sexual abuse within the church.

“There will be a legal process now and I will vigorously defend myself against this false allegation,” DiMarzio said. “Sexual abuse is a despicable crime and since arriving at the diocese in 2003, I have worked and will continue to work tirelessly to purge sexual abuse from our diocese in Brooklyn and Queens.”

Garabedian announced the allegations in a letter sent to the Archdiocese of Newark on Nov. 11, but cannot file suit until New Jersey’s Child Victims Act — which provides victims of sexual abuse a two-year look-back period to file suit regardless of statute of limitations — takes effect on Dec. 1.

New York legislators passed a similar law also called the Child Victims Act that took effect on Aug. 14, and 154 lawsuits have since been filed in Brooklyn alleging abuse against the Catholic Church and other Kings County organizations

The attorney — who was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the 2015 drama “Spotlight” about abuse within the Catholic Church in Boston — will be seeking $20 million on behalf of his client, and expects to name both the Newark diocese and DiMarzio as defendants.

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