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Priests around the country are standing up for their good names.
USA Today reported Saturday on how priests who say they’re wrongly accused are fighting back with defamation suits. The article discusses the case of Fr. Roy Herberger in Buffalo. The diocese removed him from ministry in 2018, after a man claimed Herberger abused him in the 1980s.
Herberger: "I couldn't say Mass, I was stuck in my apartment by myself. I couldn't even attend funerals of people in the parish where I had retired from."
But the accuser’s story didn’t add up, and after a six-month investigation, the Buffalo diocese returned Herberger to active ministry near the end of 2018. Father Herberger later sued his accuser for defamation, arguing the abuse claim permanently damaged his public reputation.
USA Today also highlighted a case much closer to home — that of Fr. Eduard Perrone in Detroit.
The archdiocese suspended Fr. Perrone as pastor of Assumption Grotto in 2019 owing to a dubious allegation of sex abuse from decades prior. Grotto parishioners were outraged when episcopal vicar Msgr. Michael Bugarin made the announcement at Sunday Masses.
Michael Voris: "So why can't [Fr. Perrone] make one comment [in his own defense]? You won't let him make one comment. Why is that?"
Bugarin: "That's part of the process."
Parishioners: "That's ridiculous ... That's utterly ridiculous."
The accusation against Fr. Perrone didn’t hold up to scrutiny. Church Militant has reported officials engaged in witness manipulation to fabricate a rape charge against Perrone. The accuser himself denied the sodomy charge — a crucial point in the case.
In July, Father Perrone won his defamation lawsuit against Sgt. Nancy LePage, a detective who helped fabricate the rape charge with Bugarin. In August, Perrone sued Bugarin for defamation, accusing the monsignor of being in on the scheme that led to Perrone’s suspension from public ministry.
Father Perrone: "And I was removed from the parish, and other penalties were imposed on me, and it was about a week later, roughly, that I was able to see the case file."
Despite proof of Perrone’s innocence, the archdiocese still has not reinstated him, leaving him in canonical limbo, cut off from his parish.