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Priest accused of stalking O'Brien fit for trial

The Rev. David Ajemian was arrested after he tried to enter a taping of Conan O'Brien's show. The Rev. David Ajemian was arrested after he tried to enter a taping of Conan O'Brien's show. (David Karp/associated press)
Email|Print| Text size + By Samuel Maull
Associated Press / November 10, 2007

NEW YORK - A Massachusetts priest accused of stalking Conan O'Brien was found fit to stand trial yesterday, although his lawyer acknowledged he has been treated for psychological problems.

The judge issued the ruling after a court-appointed psychologist examined the Rev. David Ajemian of the Archdiocese of Boston. State Justice Abraham Clott also ordered him held on $2,500 cash bail.

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.

Monsignor Dennis Sheehan of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton attended the hearing. He said Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley "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 there.

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.

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 MBTA. He also worked as a teacher.

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