A lawsuit filed in Massachusetts alleges that the current head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland was one of three high-ranking members of the Catholic Church who were negligent in allowing an administrator at Arlington Catholic High School to prey on minors a decade ago.

Bishop Robert Deeley, who as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archbishop of Boston had a duty to hire and supervise Arlington Catholic employees between 2011 and 2013, “knew or should have known” that Vice Principal Stephen Biagioni was committing repeated sexual assaults, the lawsuit claims.

Three unnamed Massachusetts plaintiffs who attended Arlington Catholic between 2009 and 2017 brought the suit against Deeley and Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley and Bishop Peter Uglietto, both of the Archdiocese of Boston. The suit also lists three more unidentified defendants.

All three plaintiffs allege Biagioni abused them in a similar manner while they were serving detentions as underage students. One plaintiff, referred to as John Doe I, said that on at least six occasions between 2011 and 2013 Biagioni forced him to wrestle with Biagioni and with other boys, according to court records. While wrestling, Biagioni would force the plaintiff’s head between his thighs and against his penis, the lawsuit alleges.

Bishop Robert Deeley outside of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland offices in December 2020. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“It is abundantly clear that the Catholic Church has not changed its ways,” Mitchell Garabedian, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told the Press Herald in a phone interview Thursday, adding that he represents about 20 Mainers who claim they were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.

Biagioni is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit for “strategic reasons,” Garabedian said. Biagioni, who was later promoted to principal, was placed on administrative leave in 2016 following a complaint about his behavior while overseeing a detention.


Instead, the lawsuit targets the church officials plaintiffs say should have removed Biagioni from his position.

John Doe I, the only defendant who alleges abuse while Deeley was vicar general and moderator of the curia of the archbishop of Boston, claims he has suffered physical and mental ailments that include problems sleeping and concentrating, shame, anger and anxiety, the complaint states.

Garabedian said the relatively recent time frame of the alleged abuse – most of which occurred a decade or more after the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team brought the pattern of abuse in the Catholic Church into the public eye ­– was evidence that the church is “too powerful and influential to ever change its ways.”

He called on the Office of the Maine Attorney General to investigate the church.

Neither a spokesman nor an attorney for the Portland Diocese responded emails Thursday night asking to discuss the case.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.