In 2002, Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian represented 86 people who claimed to have been molested or raped as children by Father John J. Geoghan, a Catholic priest from Dorchester, Mass. The case led to a $10 million settlement for Garabedian’s clients, and to a Boston Globe Spotlight team investigation that exposed an international epidemic of abuse and cover-up extending all the way to the Vatican. Garabedian has since represented more than 1,000 victims in 14 countries, and he still gets more than 20 calls a month from alleged victims seeking his help.
The Globe investigation was rewarded with a Pulitzer Prize, and became the subject of the 2015 Academy Award–winning film Spotlight. Actor Stanley Tucci portrays Garabedian (CGS’71, CAS’73) in the film with such intensity, the Boston attorney says, that many reporters are now terrified of meeting with him.
People who know him don’t disavow that intensity, but, they say, there are other sides to the sometimes fearsome lawyer who grew up on a farm in Methuen, Mass. He is witty, and he is generous, a trait inherited from his father, whose farmhands often came to him for advice. His family attended an Armenian Apostolic church every Sunday. “It was a very peaceful, kind way to live,” says Garabedian, whose office, piled high with boxes and papers, is just around the corner from Faneuil Hall, where his family once sold vegetables grown on their farm.
BU Today talked with him, and with people who know him well, about the scandal, his commitment to the victims, and what drove him to take on the Catholic Church.