U.S. News

New York AG sues Catholic Diocese of Buffalo over sexual abuse allegations

Gavel In Front Of Row Of Law Books
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By PETE MADDEN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and its former leaders Bishop Richard Malone and Bishop Edward Grosz, alleging they failed to adequately investigate accusations of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Over a two-year investigation, James’ office identified more than two dozen diocesan priests who were credibly accused of abuse but were not immediately referred to the Vatican for possible removal from the clergy, which according to the complaint “operated to conceal the actual nature and scope of sexual abuse allegations in the [Diocese].”

“For years, the Diocese of Buffalo and its leadership failed to protect children from sexual abuse,” said Attorney General James in a statement. “Instead, they chose to protect the very priests who were credibly accused of these atrocious acts.”

Bishop Malone resigned in December 2019 in the wake of a Vatican review of the diocese prompted by widespread criticism of his handling of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by local clergy members. Bishop Grosz resigned in March 2020 upon reaching mandatory retirement age for bishops.

The Diocese of Buffalo has been in a state of crisis since 2018, when Siobhan O’Connor, Malone’s former personal secretary, leaked internal church documents to investigative reporter Charlie Specht from ABC’s local station WKBW, sparking months of reporting about whether there had been efforts to conceal the extent of the problem from the public.

In an interview with ABC News that aired as a special edition of “Nightline,” Malone defended his leadership.

“I feel that in the almost 20 years I have been a bishop, I’ve tried hard to be a good shepherd,” Malone told ABC News, arguing that he had “inherited a decades old horrific problem of abuse.”

But the crisis only deepened in September with the emergence of secret audio recordings, made by Malone’s then-secretary and diocesan vice chancellor Fr. Ryszard Biernat and obtained by both WKBW and ABC News.

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