BY STEVEN MOORE – SUNDAY WORLD
“A STRABANE is taking his fight against the Catholic Church to the US Supreme Court, The Sunday World can reveal.
FATHER JOHN GALLAGHER wants to sue the church for allegedly defaming his character after he blew the whistle on a pervert priest.
He is taking his four year fight against the church to the highest court in the US to see if he has the right to sue for damages.
Fr Gallagher, who is based in Palm Beach, Florida, made world headlines five years ago when he claimed the church had locked him out of his parochial house in revenge for going to the police about a priest who had admitted sex offences to him.
The 51 year old who arrived in Florida in 2000, claims the church had told him to put a pervert priest Fr Jose Palimattom on a plane to another country rather than contact the police.
And when he refused he said he was put under so much stress he was hospitalised with a suspected heart attack and when he got out he claims he returned to the parochial house to find the locks changed.
The church has since launched an astonishing attack on the Co. Tyrone priest accusing his of “blatantly lying” about the affair and of a raft of other allegations.
Fr Gallagher says the diocese slandered his name after he helped another Palimattom behind bars for showing pornography to a child.
Now he and his attorney have one question for the US Supreme Court – are they allowed to sue the Catholic Church for defamation when it has never been done before.
“There’s really no protection in the church for anyone who steps forward, says Fr Gallagher.
He said he was frozen out of the Diocese of Palm Beach for alerting the authorities but the church have claimed this is not the case.
“In my mind Father Gallagher is a hero”, said Ted Babbitt, Gallagher’s attorney. “He reported this child abuse when he was told not to by the church”.
Palimattom was later convicted, served six months in jail and was deported.
But Gallagher said the church turned their backs on him, claiming that the diocese wanted him to cover up the allegations.
“The phrase they used was “you don’t think like the rest of us£ says Gallagher, who claimed the diocese later defamed him in church as retaliation.
It was reported in 2016nthat, according to Gallagher’s lawsuit, the bishop ordered a statement to be read in all Masses telling worshippers Gallagher was making unfounded allegations.
“Fr Gallagher was called essentially crazy, he was called a liar, and that’s not true” said Babbitt.
Last year the Florida Supreme Court said it would not hear the case, deciding it was not in their jurisdiction.
Gallagher and his attorney said the church should not be immune from civil suits that have nothing to do with church doctrine.
“This is about the protection of minors. protection of children and the vulnerable, and if there’s no protection for the person who will speak out on their behalf and be their voice we have a serious problem.
I admire Fr Gallagher.
But he is up against the might of the RC church.
I wish him well.