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As the diocese of Buffalo, New York is reeling from a wave of sex abuse lawsuits unleashed Wednesday, one stands out.
Father Peter Popadick is being accused of "unpermitted, forcible and harmful sexual contact" with a minor.
Popadick is notable because not only was he the former secretary to the late Bishop Edward Head, Popadick was hand-delivered a letter from a seminarian accusing Father Dennis Riter of forcing a 6-year-old into oral sex.
That case has gained wide traction in media, with ABC Nightline doing a full report recently on why Buffalo's current bishop Richard Malone restored Riter to active ministry — in spite of a failed polygraph and never interviewing relevant witnesses.
The victim, Anthony Ravarini, sat down with Church Militant last year to tell his story.
Ravarini: "He took me in his office and he nonchalantly came around and he was standing right in front of me, and he dropped his trousers and he made me perform oral sex on him until he came in my mouth and all over my face, it was in my hair. It was really disgusting."
Wes Walawender witnessed the aftermath of the event with his own eyes.
Walawender: "I was just shocked because I didn't know what to make out of it. I could definitely identify that smell as one substance only."
Walawender drafted a letter to the bishop detailing what he witnessed, and when he went to the bishop's office, he was greeted by his secretary, Fr. Peter Popadick. He placed the letter in Popadick's hands — and then heard nothing for weeks.
Running into Popadick later, he asked him what happened to his letter. According to Walawender, Popadick dismissed its contents, saying words to the effect that the letter was "not well received" and "not appreciated" by the bishop.
The case never went anywhere, including last spring, when Riter was placed on a leave of absence over other abuse allegations — and promptly returned to active ministry in spite of the investigator never even interviewing Ravarini or Walawender.
Bp. Malone: "Children in the Church are safe."
In spite of Bp. Malone's assurances that children are safe in his diocese, critics say his mishandling of the Riter case shows the cover-up continues, and that predator priests are allowed to operate with impunity.