Settlement reached with 15th sexual abuse victim of Lawrence priest

The Eagle-Tribune [North Andover MA]

October 20, 2021

By Jill Harmacinski

A settlement for another sexual abuse victim of the late Father John J. Gallagher, who was assigned to St. Mary’s Church in Lawrence in the 1970s, was recently reached, said attorney Mitchell Garabedian.

Garabedian, of Boston, who is well known for representing sexual abuse victims of the Catholic church, said this the 15th claim he’s settled involving Gallagher, of the Augustinian Order. The claims involved 14 females and one male, he said.

The recent settlement was in the low six figures, Garabedian said.

“My courageous client, a female, was sexually abused by Father Gallagher on at least five different occasions from approximately 1973 to 1976. At the time of the sexual abuse, my client was on the basketball team affiliated with the Catholic Inter-Parochial Schools and Father Gallagher was the coach and also a priest at St. Mary’s Church,” Garabedian said.

According to Gallagher’s obituary, he died in 2006 at age 87. He was assigned to schools in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida, as well as locally at Merrimack College in 1969 and 1970 and St. Mary’s from 1972 to 1979.

In August 2020, Garabedian reached another settlement with Catholic Church to pay $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit involving another one of Gallagher’s victims from St. Mary’s School. Gallagher was both a coach and a teacher at the school.

The victims at the time — both female and male — ranged from 8 to 14 years old, Garabedian said.

A similar settlement was announced in 2018, when the Catholic church paid $1 million after five men and three women filed a lawsuit stating they were sexually abused by Gallagher and the Rev. Robert Turnbull during the 1970s and 1980s in Lawrence and Reading.

The Augustinians are an order of Catholic priests whose primary duties are teaching.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.