Michael Borcina said he lied to investigators "to protect Madonna"

By Char Adams
Updated May 10, 2016 10:30 AM
Heidi Gutman/NBC

The ex-boyfriend of Madonna Badger, who lost her three daughters and her parents to a Christmas Day house fire in 2011, now claims the grieving mother may be at fault for the deadly blaze.

In a lawsuit deposition obtained by the Hartford Courant, Michael Borcina is changing his story – saying he previously lied about leaving a bag of ashes believed to have caused the fire in the home’s mudroom in order to “protect” his then-girlfriend Badger.

“To spare her from carrying the burden that maybe she had done something to hurt her family,” he said, according to the Courant.

Lily, 9, and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah died that night, along with their grandparents Lomer, 71, and Pauline Johnson, 69, when the massive fire ripped through Badger’s Stamford, Connecticut, home as they slept.

Badger, 51, and 56-year-old Borcina were the only survivors. Borcina said in the deposition that he hasn’t seen Badger since six months after the house fire, according to the Courant.

Calls to lawyers for Badger and Borcina were not immediately returned.

Borcina, who was renovating the home at the time, told investigators at the time that he left a bag of fireplace ash in the mudroom, which led to the deadly blaze.

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During a Today show appearance just months after the tragedy, Badger recalled watching Borcina sift through the ashes to make sure they weren’t on fire before putting them into a brown bag in the mudroom.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘I should put that [bag] outside,’ ” she said. “And then I remember thinking, ‘No, I watched him put his hands through it.’ ”

Borcina’s new claims were made in a deposition he gave as part of lawsuits filed by the children’s father, Matthew Badger, against Borcina, other contractors who worked on the house and local building inspectors.

Investigators initially said they believed the ashes caused the fire because the embers from the fireplace sparked weren’t totally cold, the Courant reports. However, from her hospital bed, Badger told officials that she thought an electrical problem in the home started the fire – the home was in the middle of a massive renovation.

Prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges against Borcina at the time. However, Borcina and his company, Tiberias Construction Inc., agreed to pay $5 million in a settlement last year to the estates of the children and their grandparents as a result of the suit.

In light of Borcina’s revelation, Matthew’s attorney, Ilann Maazel, said in a statement provided to the Courant that the grieving father will continue the case “until we get the whole truth.”

“What caused the fire that killed Lily, Sarah and Grace Badger?” the statement read. “Matthew Badger will not rest until he gets the answers about why his precious girls died.”

In the years since the fire, the children’s parents have made strides to bring some good out of the tragedy, and honor their daughters.

Michael created the Lily Sarah Grace Fund to bring arts to underfunded public schools in their honor. He told PEOPLE in 2012 that his efforts give him “purpose.”

“They were going to do something in this world,” he told PEOPLE of his daughters. “I love them so much, I said, ‘I’m going to do it for them.'”