Priest who exposed child abuse seeks lawsuit against Palm Beach Diocese

Rev. John Gallagher is scheduled to file a major libel lawsuit against Palm Beach Diocese Gerald Barbarito. This lawsuit follows Gallagher's efforts to expose continuing Vatican efforts to suppress child abuse cases from authorities.

In January 2015, Rev. Gallagher, then Parochial Administrator (priest in charge) of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in West Palm Beach, assisted investigators in the prosecution of a fellow priest, Jose Varkey Palimattom, who showed child porn to a teenager.

Palimattom pleaded guilty to his charges and served six months in jail before being deported to India in June 2015, according to reports.

According to Rev. Gallagher, almost immediately following the charges, the diocese went into "cover-up mode." He also claims that the diocese launched a campaign to discredit and defame him.

The suit says that Rev. Gallagher was hospitalized in May 2015 due to a heart attack caused by stress and was also met by a "hostile, confrontational bedside visit from Bishop Gerald Barbarito, (who also) accused him of faking illness."

Once Rev. Gallagher was discharged from the hospital, the church and his home locks were changed, rendering him homeless, according to the suit. Rev. Gallagher asked one of the nuns to grab his belongings, and she was fired as a result.

The suit also claims that in January 2016, the diocese issued two news released designed to discredit Rev. Gallagher. It also claims that Bishop Barbarito ordered all of his pastors to read to every Mass a letter denying any cover-up and accusing Rev. Gallagher of “causing harm to the Church” and causing “embarrassment to my brother priests as well as me.”

According to Rev. Gallagher's attorneys, he remains as a priest but isn't affiliated with a parish nor does he have pastoral duties.

The lawsuit will say:

Plaintiff was damaged in his reputation and his livelihood, and his ability to serve in his chosen profession as a priest has been greatly diminished or eliminated. These defamations will live forever on the Internet and will follow Plaintiff throughout his life.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

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