Detroit Priest Sues Monsignor for Defamation

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by Christine Niles  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 26, 2020   

Msgr. Bugarin accused of framing Fr. Perrone

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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Detroit priest is suing a fellow priest for fabricating a rape charge against him, leading to his suspension and the ruin of his reputation.

On Wednesday, Fr. Eduard Perrone filed a lawsuit alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false light by Msgr. Michael Bugarin, delegate for clergy misconduct for the archdiocese of Detroit, after Bugarin fabricated a sodomy charge against Perrone in July 2019.

False Rape Allegation

"Bugarin made the false rape allegation to members of the Archdiocesan Review Board, the Archbishop and others," the lawsuit states. "He knew the allegation was not true because John Doe told him repeatedly that he was not raped by Fr. Perrone. He made this statement with deliberate malice, knowing it would harm Fr. Perrone."

Attorney Chris Kolomjec made clear Fr. Perrone believes he has little choice but to take this action.

What do you do when you've been framed by that priest, and he refuses to recant or fix the record?

"It is with great sadness that Fr. Perrone and his legal team have reached the inevitable decision to sue Msgr. Bugarin directly, as an individual," said Kolomjec in comments to Church Militant. "Father Perrone knows that it's the last possible recourse to sue a brother priest, but what do you do when you've been framed by that priest, and he refuses to recant or fix the record?"

"He feels he has no choice," he added, clarifying that there is "no question Bugarin had been acting with Church authority with the archbishop's permission to conduct such fraud and misrepresentations against a brother priest."

 

After John Doe, a former altar boy, made allegations against Perrone in 2018, the Michigan attorney general, the Michigan State Police and the Macomb County Sheriff's Department all investigated, but decided not to proceed against the priest because the evidence was lacking.

John Doe himself has denied the sodomy charge reported by Bugarin.

"John Doe saw this report on Church Militant's website, and reached out to Bugarin, reminding Bugarin that he never said he was sodomized," Perrone's lawsuit explains.

"Having been caught in his lie by the very person he pretended to be 'protecting' with his campaign to defame and humiliate Fr. Perrone," it adds, "Bugarin refused to apologize to Fr. Perrone or correct the patently false statements he made about him to the persons to whom he made his defamatory comments."

"He released public statements to the media that went viral worldwide, knowing full well that the basis of the allegations were based on defamatory statements and reports," Kolomjec told Church Militant. "He allowed this to continue even after the alleged accuser contacted him and corrected the record."

As delegate for clergy misconduct, Bugarin wields considerable governing power on behalf of the archbishop, exercising authority over all clergy misconduct cases in the archdiocese.

Legal Vindication

Perrone recently won a defamation lawsuit against Det. Sgt. Nancy LePage, who agreed to pay $125,000 to Perrone after a three-person case evaluation panel unanimously found in Perrone's favor.

As Church Militant reported, and as confirmed by LePage's government attorney, John Schapka, LePage will not be paying the defamation award; rather, the residents of Macomb County will be forced to foot the bill for her malfeasance — in spite of the fact that LePage admits she was working on her own time and not on behalf of Macomb County.

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Excerpt from Aug. 26 lawsuit filed by Fr. Perrone against Msgr. Bugarin

In addition to LePage's fabricated sodomy charge, the detective also has a track record of falsifying information: Two former altar boys have have signed affidavits testifying to her deliberate insertion of erroneous content in her reports of their conversations in an attempt to present false and incriminating evidence against the priest.

Transcripts and recordings from the interviews with John Doe reveal LePage said she wanted to beat Fr. Perrone "into the ground," claiming she'd turn off the cameras while doing so, while Bugarin laughed in the background.

Canonical Case at a Standstill

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Det. Sgt. Nancy LePage,

Macomb County Sheriff's Department

In spite of Perrone's legal victory against LePage, the archdiocese issued a statement on Aug. 12 making clear Fr. Perrone would remain "restricted from all public ministry" until his "canonical proceeding is fully resolved," going on to clarify that "[s]uch cases come under the jurisdiction of the Vatican."

But the Vatican cannot move on the canonical proceeding until the Detroit archdiocese forwards the case to Rome — something it has yet to do.

"Despite inaccurate representations given to the public last year by the archdiocese of Detroit, Fr. Perrone's legal team does not believe the case has been sent to Rome," Kolomjec told Church Militant.

He continued:

Inconceivably, despite serious questions about Msgr. Bugarin's conduct, he may even be asked by the archbishop to draft the official votum [canonical "opinion" and recommendations] to send to the Vatican. It's been over one year since Father was put on ice due to false allegations, and yet we have nothing indicating that the archdiocese has complied with its canonical obligations in sending its votum with the investigative file to the Vatican.

Bugarin's conduct throughout the investigation has been criticized for bias. Not only is he accused of fabricating a grave charge of abuse about a fellow priest and then failing to correct the public record, he has also served as John Doe's spiritual director — a conflict of interest that should have disqualified him from the investigation.


 
"The result of the Nancy LePage lawsuit as well as other evidence indicate a severe departure on the part of Msgr. Bugarin from a neutral and unbiased investigation into allegations against Fr. Perrone," said Kolomjec. "Ultimately, it pointed to Msgr. Bugarin as not just a willing participant, but the actual author and director of most of the defamatory and fraudulent conduct."
 
"It's hard to take that in emotionally, that people have such malice to invent crimes that were never committed," Fr. Perrone told Church Militant in an Aug. 7 interview. "I don't know what motivates all of that and I can't account for it, but it's certainly been a disturbing thing to me."
 
Perrone is not the only traditional priest in the archdiocese Bugarin has targeted.
 
According to his attorneys, Perrone is not the only traditional priest in the archdiocese Bugarin has targeted.
 
"Father Perrone obviously wants to restore his good name, but more importantly, Fr. Perrone believes strongly that Msgr. Bugarin should not be in a position of authority to do this to other priests in the future," said Kolomjec. "Father Perrone has been made aware of many other priests who have been railroaded by Msgr. Bugarin for various types of reasons, but are too afraid to speak out."
 
As Perrone has told Church Militant, he hopes, in addition to being fully vindicated and reinstated as a priest, that his case serves as a test case for priests worldwide unjustly persecuted by fellow clergy.
 
Church Militant contacted Msgr. Bugarin for comment but received no immediate response.
 
Follow Church Militant's full coverage of the Fr. Perrone case here.
 
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