It began in Boston with a desire to help people

Upon becoming an attorney in 1979, Mitchell Garabedian built a general practice around representing individuals. His practice focused on cases involving personal injury, divorce, immigration, bankruptcies, and criminal matters. It was not until the mid-1990s that the clergy sexual abuse crisis became the center of Mitchell Garabedian’s practice. While records now publicly available show Catholic clergy in Boston had for decades been sexually abusing children, this was a well-kept secret of the Boston Archdiocese in 1995. In the mid 1990s Mitchell Garabedian began to meet with victims and survivors who as children had been sexually abused by Father John J. Geoghan.

Father Geoghan was a Roman Catholic priest of the Boston Archdiocese who would later be accused of sexually abusing more than 140 children. In 1996, Mitchell Garabedian filed suit against Father Geoghan, a foreshadowing of the massive litigation to follow naming hundreds of Catholic priests and dioceses throughout the United States and ultimately the world. In preparing for the trials of the Father Geoghan cases, Mitchell Garabedian pressed Father Geoghan and the Boston Archdiocese to produce documents regarding Father Geoghan’s conduct. The Archdiocese for years resisted complying with those subpoenas, claiming the First Amendment protected the documents.

Fighting for the right to uncover the truth

Mitchell Garabedian successfully argued he only wanted the court to order the Church to produce documents concerning Father Geoghan’s misconduct with children, not Father Geoghan’s religious belief or performance. The court agreed and ordered documents produced pertaining to Father Geoghan’s conduct and behavior. The Boston Archdiocesan records produced pursuant to court orders showed senior officials of the Boston Archdiocese knew from at least 1980 that Father Geoghan had sexually abused multiple children. Yet, these records also showed the Boston Archdiocesan officials kept reassigning Father Geoghan to new parishes, where his predilections to abuse children were unknown.

Hidden secrets revealed

While Mitchell Garabedian learned of this history he was precluded from revealing the information by a court order the Boston Archdiocese obtained requiring Mitchell Garabedian and his clients not to reveal what they discovered prior to trial. The Boston Globe, with the support of Mitchell Garabedian’s clients, successfully petitioned the court to gain access to the secret documents Mitchell Garabedian had uncovered. When those documents were released to the Globe in January 2002 and subsequently published, for the first time the public saw that the Boston Archdiocese was knowingly reassigning an admitted pedophile priest to unsuspecting parishes. This watershed event revealed that the Catholic hierarchy, including Bernard Cardinal Law, was knowingly reassigning a priest who admitted to being a pedophile.

Litigation that followed revealed this was too often a common practice. In a February 2003 article about a Suffolk County, New York, Grand Jury report concerning pedophile priests within the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, The New York Times reported,

The report was one of the most comprehensive accountings of abuse by priests in a diocese since the pedophile scandal engulfed the Roman Catholic Church 13 months ago with disclosures that a Boston priest had attacked 130 boys over 30 years. Since then, hundreds of civil suits have been filed with claims totaling more than $100 million, and prosecutors across the nation have taken their investigations of clerical sexual abuse before dozens of grand juries.

The 2002 news coverage of the Father Geoghan cases was the beginning of the intense media period for the Roman Catholic Clergy sexual abuse crisis. Mitchell Garabedian continued to pressure the church. The book Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, written by The Boston Globe investigative staff, puts in perspective the secrecy of the abuse scandal and Mitchell Garabedian’s efforts to expose it:

But by late 2001, Garabedian had spent five years interviewing alleged victims of John Geoghan’s sexual abuse, filing lawsuits, requesting Church records through the legal discovery process, and deposing Church officials under oath. Through it all, he compiled a body of evidence showing that cardinals, bishops, and other Church officials had been covering up for Geoghan for more than three decades.

The case is settled

Such formerly secret evidence paved the way for Mitchell Garabedian and his clients to reach a highly emotional settlement with the Archdiocese of Boston. In March 2002 Mitchell Garabedian and his 86 clients in the Father Geoghan cases settled with the Boston Archdiocese. Unlike victims and survivors in previous cases, the 86 victims and survivors refused to sign confidentiality agreements and the church ultimately conceded that confidentiality agreements did not have to be signed. Three months later the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a policy that said that confidentiality agreements would no longer be used in settlements of clergy sexual abuse cases. In The Boston Globe’s book, Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, Mitchell Garabedian is quoted as saying “Obviously, confidentiality agreements are good for the perpetrator and his or her enablers, since the secrecy allows for further wrongful acts to continue.”

The settlement was reported publicly and to the court. In fact, the then Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, said in a press release that he hoped “the resolution of these cases will continue the healing process. This settlement is an important closure for these victims who have long endured the damage done to them by John Geoghan.”

The case is unsettled

However, in May of 2002 Cardinal Law reversed himself and announced that the archdiocese would not honor the settlement with the 86 victims or survivors. Mitchell Garabedian argued that this was a breach of a settlement agreement reported to the court. The court scheduled hearings and allowed depositions to determine if the Archdiocese had in fact entered into an agreement that the Archdiocese could now not breach. At the request of Mitchell Garabedian on behalf of his 86 clients, the court immediately ordered Cardinal Law to be deposed and allowed other Church officials to be deposed. Mitchell Garabedian and his senior associate attorney, William H. Gordon, deposed Cardinal Bernard Law for several days, and in the summer of 2002 a trial was held on the enforceability of the reported settlement agreement.

A precedence-setting victory for sexual abuse victims

Before the verdict was issued, Mitchell Garabedian’s 86 clients and the Archdiocese entered into a $10 million settlement. This sum was one of the larger settled cases in the clergy sexual abuse crisis to that point and became a model for other settlements.

After this landmark case victims and survivors continued to emerge from the secrecy of the clergy sexual abuse cases. In the fall of 2003, Mitchell Garabedian was then representing another 120 clients who claimed they had been sexually abused by priests who had worked in the Archdiocese of Boston. Unlike the earlier 86 victims and survivors who suffered abuse by one priest (Father Geoghan), the 120 victims and survivors in 2003 identified their sexual abusers as being more than 40 different priests who had worked in the Archdiocese of Boston. Mitchell Garabedian, along with lawyers representing other victims and survivors of abuse, obtained an $85 million settlement with the Boston Archdiocese.

Mitchell Garabedian’s practice is not limited to victims or survivors of clergy sexual abuse. He has and continues to represent victims and survivors of sexual abuse of all ages, including adults who were children when they were abused by teachers, coaches, priests, scout leaders, neighbors, relatives, or other adults who abused their trust or authority.

Contact us for a free consultation

To find out how we can help you recover money, stop your abuser from abusing others, and obtain some justice, call the Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian at (888) 995-2214 or contact us online. We represent victims and survivors in Massachusetts. Outside of Massachusetts with local counsel we represent victims and survivors across the United States, as well as in other countries.