60 Minutes interviews Bp. Malone's secretary who exposed his cover-ups
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The national news magazine 60 Minutes will be interviewing Buffalo's diocesan secretary turned whistleblower who helped expose multiple cover-ups of clerical sex abuse committed under Buffalo's Bp. Richard Malone.
Siobhan O'Connor, Malone's former secretary, quit her diocesan job in August, just two months after the diocese was served a federal subpoena in June ordering it to turn over all documents pertaining to credible allegations of clerical sex abuse. Before leaving, she reportedly copied "hundreds of documents" from "confidential files of the Diocese of Buffalo."
Inside sources tell Church Militant that if any of the documentation possessed by O'Connor proves that the diocese withheld information from the U.S. attorney's office back in June, then Malone and other diocesan officials may be facing serious charges related to obstruction of the federal investigation.
On Thursday, O'Connor admitted to being one of the sources of documentation and inside information that helped a local Buffalo news station, WKBW, launch a three-part investigation showing that Malone:
Returned Fr. Art Smith to active ministry despite credible allegations of sex abuse
Allowed Fr. Robert Yetter to remain a pastor despite multiple allegations of homosexual predation
Grossly underreported the number of priests credibly accused of sex abuse
O'Connor has been working with WKBW's lead investigator, Charlie Specht, whose three-part series on Malone she helped track. In her statement on Thursday, O'Connor says that blowing the whistle was difficult but had to be done.
I am pleased that Charlie can break this news to my fellow Western New Yorkers. Please know that my conscience compelled me to take action regarding Bishop Malone because of my profound concern for victims, the diocese and our community. As a faithful Catholic, I could not abide by what I witnessed at the Chancery. As the whistleblower, my heart is heavy, but my soul is at peace.
Specht's hard-hitting reporting has stirred the wrath of Malone. Church Militant reached out to Specht to gain insight into his motives for exposing corruption.
"I am a strong Catholic," Specht said, "and have never felt that I am attacking the Church; rather, I feel that our reports and the brave people featured in them are exposing wrongdoing that will, in the long run, make the Church stronger and make the community a better place."
O'Connor said she was impressed by Specht's dedication to honest reporting.
"It has been a privilege to work with Charlie Specht of WKBW for several months now," she said. "His integrity, faith and tenacity have continued to impress me." She added that she has been collaborating with the 60 Minutes team, which will garner national attention to the dismal situation in Buffalo.
The whistleblower says was simply left with no other choice than to reveal the corruption that she was witnessing firsthand.
"The reality of what I saw left me with no other option because at the end of my life, I'm not going to answer to Bishop Malone," said O'Connor, "I am going to answer to God."
[At] the end of my life, I'm not going to answer to Bishop Malone, I am going to answer to God.
Along with Smith and Yetter, Malone also restored Fr. Dennis Riter to the position of pastor of a parish in June. Riter is credibly accused of abusing young men dating back to the early '90s. Church Militant interviewed one of Riter's accusers, Anthony Ravarini, who affirms he was abused by Riter at the age of six.
A Buffalo seminarian, Wes Walawender, was a witness to the direct aftermath of the abuse. He wrote a detailed account of the event and hand-delivered copies of this letter to the secretaries of Bp. Edward D. Head, then the ordinary of Buffalo, and Bp. Edward Grosz, an auxiliary bishop. In restoring Riter to active ministry, Malone dismissed this case along with two other alleged victims of Riter, who are currently suing the diocese.
Specht told Church Militant that whistleblowers are special people and are needed in the fight against corruption in the Church.
"Whistleblowers have the ability to see something wrong, know that it's wrong and then have the courage to take steps," he said, "often at great personal risk, to expose that behavior to the general public for the greater good of society."
He also praised Catholic journalists, who are indispensable in helping the Church heal and grow stronger.
"Catholic journalists are helping the world understand what is happening in the Church, why it happened and, more importantly, what can be done to prevent wrongdoing in the future," Specht said. "Our work has gotten the attention of civil authorities who have felt compelled to open investigations to protect children."
This Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, 60 Minutes will air their interview with O'Connor. WKBW will be following up with their own interview of O'Connor at 11 p.m. ET Sunday evening.