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November 10, 2007

Conan O'Brien's stalker priest fit to stand trial


The priest accused of stalking Conan O'Brien might be crazy, but he isn't crazy enough to get out of his trial.

A judge decided that Rev. David Ajemian of the Archdiocese of Boston was psychologicly fit to go through the process.

Ajemian was arrested last week after trying to enter NBC studios, he was released the same day on $2,500 bail.

NEW YORK (AP) — A priest accused of stalking Conan O'Brien was found fit to stand trial Friday, although his lawyer acknowledged he has been treated for psychological problems.

State Supreme Court Justice Abraham Clott issued the ruling after a court-appointed psychologist examined the Rev. David Ajemian of the Archdiocese of Boston. The priest later posted bail, which had been set at $2,500.

Ajemian's attorney, Eric Seiff, agreed the priest was fit for trial. But Seiff said Ajemian had been taking medication and has been treated for a year for psychological problems.

Msgr. Dennis Sheehan of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton, Mass., attended the hearing. He said the cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese "asked me to come as a sign of his concern."

Ajemian, 46, 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.

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 to 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 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 guided Ajemian before he graduated from St. John's Seminary in 2001.

Ajemian, the son of former Time magazine journalist Robert Ajemian, attended Harvard University at the same time as O'Brien. 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. 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.

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