Priest Who Vouched for Von Bulow Sued for Rape
By Andrea Estes
July 23, 1999
A Roman Catholic priest once accused of lying in the trial of socialite Claus von Bulow repeatedly raped a young boy two decades ago and then ordered him to keep quiet or "burn in hell," the alleged victim is now charging.
Thomas A. Marks, 35, of Fall River, filed suit last week in Boston federal court against the Rev. Philip A. Magaldi, who retired in April after the charges were aired.
Magaldi, 62, had been transferred to a church in North Richland Hills, Texas, outside of Fort Worth, after he was found guilty of embezzling money from the Diocese of Providence, where he worked when the alleged sexual assaults took place.
Magaldi couldn't be reached for comment. But he has insisted he is innocent. He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in April: "I view this as an attempt to blackmail the Diocese of Fort Worth and to embarrass the church I have served for 38 years and four months.
"I have loved children all my life and am repelled by the thought that anyone would think I would perpetrate the horrible things I am accused of."
Martin Leppo, who represents Marks, says his client's life was ruined by the six-year abusive relationship with the priest, whom he met while pushing his bike on a Worcester street in 1970.
According to the suit, Marks, then a young teenager, was walking beside his broken bike when Magaldi pulled up beside him in his car.
He asked Marks if he needed help and Magaldi put the bike in his trunk. Wearing street clothes, Magaldi told Marks he was a priest and invited him to a Holiday Inn, where he ordered Marks to remove his clothes, the suit says.
The priest attempted to perform oral sex, then gave him an enema telling him he was "cleansing (him) with holy water," Marks alleges.
Magaldi handed him $ 300 and ordered him to keep quiet or "he would never see his father and mother again and hewould burn in hell for eternity," the suit states.
Over the next six years, Magaldi "sexually abused" Marks several times, the complaint says. It wasn't until 1997, while attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that Marks remembered what had happened, the complaint states.
Officials of the Diocese of Providence declined comment, saying they hadn't yet seen the suit.
In a written statement Fort Worth diocese spokesman Jeff Hensley said because of the charges, officials "had requested and obtained Father Magaldi's retirement from active priestly ministry" even though Magaldi had "vehemently" denied the allegations or even knowing Marks. "If Father Magaldi is exonerated, his status will be re-evaluated."
Magaldi, who resigned from St. Anthony's Church in May 1988, was indicted in 1985 on perjury and obstruction charges for allegedly lying in a 1983 statement he gave in support of von Bulow, who was acquitted in a second trial in 1985 of twice trying to murder his heiress wife with insulin injections. The charges against Magaldi were dropped in June 1987.
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