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The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York has released a new list of 36 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. The new roster supplements an original list released in March by Bishop Richard J. Malone, which contained 42 names.
The original list named priests who had been removed from the ministry or had retired after being accused of sexual abuse. Bishop Malone is on the hot seat after acknowledging a "tsunami" of new sexual abuse claims against diocese priests.
If or someone you love is a victim of sexual abuse, please contact one of our New York Catholic church sexual abuse attorneys to begin your path to justice.
At a recent press conference, Bishop Malone admitted that his diocese had not been prepared for the outpouring of sexual abuse complaints in recent months. "We asked the victims to come forward," he said. "They have, and the numbers are overwhelming. I think the image, the word, tsunami, is not inappropriate."
The Buffalo Diocese's list is still incomplete. Diocese officials say they have identified at least 176 diocesan and religious order priests who have become the subject of sexual abuse claims, but have chosen to leave unpublished the names of deceased priests who only had a single abuse allegation against them.
The Diocese's new list includes the following 36 names:
The original list named 42 accused priests:
Diocese officials are insistent that the sexual abuse cases implicated in the list of priests occurred decades ago. "People in this diocese, both because of the news in general and because of the recent '60 Minutes' program, are under the impression that there is rampant child sex abuse going on right now in the diocese and that is absolutely not true," says Lawlor F. Quinlan, an attorney for the diocese. Quinlan says that no priest actively ministering in the Diocese of Buffalo has been accused of child sexual abuse in the past two decades.
Just this year, the Diocese of Buffalo has received at least 191 new NY sexual abuse claims, some of which have emerged as applications for the Diocese's new compensation program for victims. Quinlan says that previous years usually saw around 7 new claims every year.
A recent piece for "60 Minutes" accused Bishop Malone and other Diocese officials of allowing accused priests to remain in the ministry long after sexual abuse allegations were made against them. Lawlor Quinlan disputes this characterization, saying that, while "60 Minutes" was "technically correct," the priests implicated are not working in any schools or churches. Quinlan says the priests "haven't been removed from the clerical state, but they have been removed from ministry."
Quinlan's comments came just moments after two Diocese priests urged Bishop Malone to step down due to his handling of sexual abuse cases. Malone has faced harsh criticism for his management of a scandal that began in February, when the Reverend Norbert Orsolits admitted to molesting "probably dozens" of young boys throughout the '70s and '80s.
Soon after, a story from the Buffalo News uncovered the fact that Buffalo Diocese leaders had approved a $1.5 million confidential settlement to a Hawaii man who accused the Reverend James A. Spielman of sexually abusing him between the ages of 14 and 17.
Then, in August, Bishop Malone's former secretary, Siobhan O'Connor, leaked confidential Diocese documents on sexual abuse to the press. Out of those documents came explosive reports from WKBW-TV. Exclusive reporting from WKBW's investigative team revealed that Malone allowed multiple priests, including Fathers Arthur "Art" J. Smith and Robert Yetter, to return to the ministry after sexual abuse allegations had been made against them.
Buffalo's Catholic Diocese is now facing an FBI investigation. The New York Attorney General's Office has also started a statewide investigation of the Catholic Church, searching for wrongdoing in the reporting and handling of sexual abuse claims. The Attorney General's investigation will take a particular focus on Buffalo's role in the scandal.