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A priest with multiple allegations of sexual abuse dating back decades has returned to active ministry, even though a legal case against him is now in court.
The diocese of Buffalo, which reinstated Fr. Dennis Riter this June to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Dunkirk, has now been sued by one of Riter's alleged victims, Matthew Golden. The diocese maintains that decades-old allegations against Riter were unsubstantiated, but Golden's lawsuit filed Aug. 30 cites one case, which was documented in 1992.
The lawsuit says the diocese received in May 1992 "a letter from a student at Christ the King Seminary reporting that he witnessed Fr. Riter sexually abusing a 6-year-old boy at Queen of All Saints Church" where Riter was pastor.
Church Militant has a copy of this letter by the "student," Wieslaw Walawender, who was assigned to Riter's parish for pastoral ministry at the time of the incident. The letter recounts the incident and asks that a meeting be set up to discuss the allegations in greater detail.
Riter's alleged 6-year-old victim, who was mentioned in the lawsuit, told
his story Aug. 22 to Church Militant on camera. Walawender — at the time — was a 26-year-old third-year seminarian from Poland studying to be a priest for the diocese of Buffalo. After Walawender blew the whistle on Riter, his vocation to the priesthood was derailed
by the diocese.
This is but one more case that has helped push New York's attorney general to open
its own Pennsylvania-style grand jury probe into the cover-up of clerical sex abuse in the state's eight dioceses. The announcement came Thursday that New York and New Jersey would both be launching similar investigations. New Mexico announced Wednesday that it's now investigating the Catholic dioceses within its borders. This brings the number of states having attorney generals investigating clerical sex abuse to eight.
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