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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - With the white heat from the media spotlight intensifying, Buffalo, New York's Bp. Richard Malone is once again rejecting mounting calls for his resignation and proclaiming his innocence — although he grudgingly admits he failed in some aspects.
"I deeply regret and apologize for having signed those letters in support of Fr. Art Smith," Malone said in an April 11 statement, referring to a predator priest Malone promoted. "I also regret not being more transparent about claims involving abuse against adults."
His sudden confession may be the result of getting word of an upcoming NBC News piece on him and his failures. NBC reporter Anne Thompson was in Buffalo last week doing extensive interviews with victims of priests Malone continues to leave in service.
Among them is one of Buffalo's most notorious cases, Fr. Dennis Riter, accused of forcing a six-year-old into oral sex in the 1990s. Two witnesses, including the boy's father as well as former seminarian Wieslaw Walawender, saw the boy running out of the rectory, his hair, face and shirt covered in semen.
When the parents reported the crime to the diocese, the diocese claimed the parents had no proof. When Walawender reported what he saw, he was kicked out of the diocese.
Although Malone removed Riter from ministry briefly in spring 2018, he restored him as pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Dunkirk in July, following an internal investigation that ruled the allegations not credible. Riter remains in active ministry to this day.
The diocese of Buffalo is facing increasing scrutiny from state and federal investigators, who may be preparing to launch a RICO investigation. Church Militant reported last week that a federal grand jury has been empaneled
in the Buffalo diocese.
Federal subpoenas were sent in March to two retired judges who oversee a victims compensation fund for the diocese.
According to local attorney Barry Covert, the subpoenas confirm that a federal grand jury is actively investigating sex abuse cover-up in Buffalo, and could be a precursor to RICO, which stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal law that prosecutes criminal organizations.
"We think that they could be looking at RICO," said Covert.
"The obstruction of justice, which is a predicate act. Moving priests around. Did they destroy any records? Did they withhold any records? Were there any incorrect, untruthful communications to law enforcement? And fraud is also a predicate act."
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