Priest Accused of Stalking Conan O'Brien Found Fit for Trial
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Boston priest accused of stalking Conan O'Brien was found fit to stand trial Friday, although his lawyer acknowledged he has been treated for mental health issues for a year.
A Manhattan judge found the Rev. David Ajemian, a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, was fit after a court-appointed psychologist examined him. State Supreme Court Justice Abraham Clott ordered him held on $2,500 cash bail.
Ajemian's attorney, Eric Seiff, said, "We concur in that, your Honor,'' after the judge found the priest fit for trial on charges including stalking and aggravated harassment. But the attorney said that the priest had been taking medication and had been in treatment for a year for psychological problems.
Msgr. Dennis Sheehan of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton, Mass., attended Friday's court appearance. He said the cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese "asked me to come as a sign of his concern.''
Ajemian, 46, was kind and caring, nothing like the obsessed man who allegedly told the late-night talk show host he was "tracking him through space and time,'' the priest's seminary mentor said earlier.
Ajemian was arrested last week while trying to enter a taping of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien'' in New York City despite being warned to stay away by NBC security personnel.
Ajemian, who allegedly began writing O'Brien in September 2006, has been placed on leave by the Boston Archdiocese and can't minister publicly. He was removed in June from his last posting, at St. Patrick Parish in Stoneham, after two years at the parish.
A spokesman at the archdiocese did not respond to questions about whether the move was related to the stalking allegations.
But on July 2, Ajemian wrote security officials at NBC questioning "why you chose to raise this matter with my superiors after I left you a clear message by phone several weeks ago that I would cease all contact with the show,'' according to court papers.
In the same letter, he called himself "a stalker of a very different order than the kind you are used to dealing with'' and dared them to "tell Conan about your surveillance of me.''
In a previous letter, Ajemian expressed frustration to O'Brien that he had been denied a spot in his audience after he'd flown to New York ``in the dimming hope that you might finally acknowledge me.''
"Is this the way you treat your most dangerous fans???'' he wrote. "You owe me big time pal.''
He also told O'Brien he knew where he lived and wrote, "Remember (mobster) Frank Costello once dodged a bullet in your building and so can you.''
Ajemian's seminary mentor, the Rev. John Mark Hannon, said Thursday he believes Ajemian can still be a good priest if he receives proper psychiatric help.
"He was a good seminarian. He was kind and generous and affable and concerned how people were,'' said Hannon, who mentored Ajemian before he graduated from St. John's Seminary in 2001.
"He's very likable,'' Hannon added. "It's just he's stupid, apparently.''
Ajemian, the son of former Time magazine journalist Robert Ajemian, attended Harvard University at the same time O'Brien did. Ajemian graduated from Harvard in 1983, while O'Brien graduated in 1985.
It was unclear whether the two crossed paths there. O'Brien's roommate at Harvard, the Rev. Paul O'Brien, a priest in Lawrence who is not related to Conan O'Brien, declined comment.
NBC said Conan O'Brien would not comment on Ajemian.
After graduating from Harvard, Ajemian took a roundabout route to the priesthood. Among his jobs was work in 1990 as a legal assistant at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and he also worked as a teacher.
Hannon, pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Hanson, said Ajemian never spoke to him about O'Brien and never gave any indication anything unusual was happening in his life. He's not a dangerous person, Hannon said.
"I still consider him a friend,'' he said.