BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A New York law firm is naming 13 priests accused of sexual abuse in the diocese of Buffalo.
Jeff Anderson & Associates released a report Tuesday detailing the past, alleged misdeeds of 13 priests publicly accused of sex abuse. Of the 13 priests, six are believed to be have died while the status and locations of the others remain unknown. The report also included their past assignments throughout the diocese.
"The release of the identities and whereabouts of known offenders protects children today and children tomorrow," commented attorney J. Michael Reck.
The law firm is calling for the diocese to release its records of abusive priests. "They've never seen the accountability, the acknowledgment that this happened, it was wrong and that it was not their fault. That acknowledgment is the first step toward their healing," explained Reck.
Law firm which released names of 13 #Buffalo Diocese priests publicly accused of sexual abuse poses several questions about the seven alleged perpetrators believed still alive, starting with — where are they now? pic.twitter.com/nD06DoPzRj— Spectrum News BUF (@SPECNewsBuffalo) March 13, 2018
"Anytime we receive notice of a claim of abuse and there is a semblance of truth, we remove the priest from active ministry and report it to the appropriate district attorney in accordance with our agreement with the eight counties in our diocese," a spokesman for the diocese said Tuesday.
On March 1, The diocese followed the lead of the archdiocese of New York and the dioceses of Brooklyn, Rockville Center and Syracuse, announcing the creation of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) to settle claims of clerical sex abuse.
"We are so very, very sorry for the pain of the abuse that has happened to you. We're sorry. I'm sorry and want to do everything we can going forward, reaching out to you who have to come to us in the past," remarked Buffalo Bp. Richard J. Malone.
The diocese estimates they have received at least 100 claims of sex abuse by 53 priests between 1950–2004 and has paid out about $1.2 million in past settlements the last 20 years.
His Excellency said the diocese will fund IRCP with self-insurance liability and investment fund reserves. He also said the diocese would sell properties to fund the program if necessary.
The creation of Buffalo's IRCP came two days after retired priest Norbert F. Orsolits confessed to sexually abusing "probably dozens" of adolescent boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Orsolits was sent to Canada's Southdown Institute — a common destination for clergy accused of sex abuse — for six months of "psychological" treatment. He was subsequently moved around the diocese before his removal from active ministry in 2003.
Terrence M. Connors, attorney for the diocese, commented:
At the time, the gold standard was to send someone away for evaluation at an accredited facility and has he had said publicly, he went away, he was sent away and he went to a facility for counseling and some form of rehabilitation to find out whether or not he was suitable for ministry. When he came back with a clean bill of health, advised that he was able to come back and serve, he did serve but as he also told you there was no evidence of abuse after he came back, and he served in a guarded fashion.
The diocese said Orsolits' removal was owing to the past allegations of sex abuse leveled against him, and they would be in agreement with the "zero tolerance" church policy regarding sex abuse claims.
Since 2005, as many as 20 sex abuse claims have been received by the diocese and at least 22 Buffalo priests were publicly accused in past decades. The spokesman for the diocese says a decision over whether they will release the names of priests accused of sex abuse "will be forthcoming very soon" and the bishop is taking the situation seriously.
Bishop Malone insisted, "We're doing this now because I know it's the right thing to do. The victims and our church in Western New York cannot move forward until the pain of the past is properly addressed."