PHILADELPHIA – A New Jersey law enforcement professional is suing the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, its bishop, a church and its agents after he was twice removed from the congregation by police.
Michael DeFilippo filed a complaint Oct. 18 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania; Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutierrez; the Rev. Ian Montgomery; The Church of The Good Shepherd, Rosemont; Heidi Kolberg; and Seth Martin alleging defamation, false light, malicious prosecution and negligence.
The plaintiff alleges he has attended The Church of The Good Shepherd, Rosemont in Bryn Mawr for 30 years. According to the suit, DeFilippo, who had been involved in a dispute with church leaders that began in October 2017, was asked to leave a Sunday worship service five months later on March 11, 2018.
He alleges he attended church again in October 2018 and Martin contacted Gutierrez, who is the bishop, to report the plaintiff was at the church. Allegedly, police were contacted again to remove him from the church.
The plaintiff alleges Martin and/or Kolberg told Gutierrez and the police that he "carried a gun" and had threatened "to shoot someone" in both March and October 2018. DeFilippo claims the allegations were "unverified and entirely false" and he was never charged with a crime.
"Both times plaintiff was removed from the church by the police, it was in plain view of the entire congregation, to the extreme humiliation, embarrassment, and shame of/to plaintiff," the suit states.
DeFlippo seeks a trial by jury, monetary damages of at least $75,000, permission to attend the church and all other just relief. He is represented by Faye Riva Cohen of The Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen PC in Philadelphia.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case number 2:19-cv-04871-PD