Buffalo Diocese Needs To Focus On Protecting Children Instead Of Itself

If only the Diocese of Buffalo would put even a fraction of the effort into protecting kids as it puts into covering up for sexual abuse by priests and guarding its secret archives.

Yesterday, an investigative news team at WKBW in Buffalo reported that the Diocese of Buffalo vastly understated the number and concealed the identities of priests accused of sexual abuse. The report is damning. In March, the Diocese released a list of 42 priests “who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor,” after pressure from our law firm and sexual abuse survivors. According to records obtained by WKBW, the actual number is conservatively 106 and likely much higher.

In its March list of 42, the Diocese knowingly left out 25 religious order priests, 19 deceased priests accused by “only” one victim and 20 other priests who did not fit the Diocese’s highly questionable and narrowly defined disclosure categories, according to WKBW. Some priests were left of the list because they were still in ministry or because the Diocese had previously hidden the abuse from parishioners, WKBW reported. Even more disturbing is that documents obtained by WKBW show that the Diocese intended to shred documents contained in its secret archives relating to seven priests.

This report comes on the heels of last week’s Buffalo News report that the Diocese of Buffalo took extreme measures to tighten security at its headquarters after secret clergy files showing how Bishop Richard Malone handled sexual abuse allegations against two priests were leaked to WKBW. “The diocese posted security guards at the doors to the headquarters, changed locks, set up a video camera and brought in a computer expert to install encryption software on email accounts and examine information systems for weaknesses that would enable security breaches,” the Buffalo News reported.  Priests entering the building are now required to wear identification badges. The Diocese put a video camera in a special locked documents room that activates upon entry. The Diocese’s lawyers tried to stop WKBW from broadcasting the stories. (WKBW said it received the documents legally.)

These are tactics straight out of Hollywood. The Diocese’s cynical and ham-handed motives are as transparent as its approach to pedophile priests should be.  The New York Attorney General’s Office  announced it will investigate all eight New York dioceses regarding how they handled and potentially covered up child sexual abuse allegations. Let’s hope law enforcement can make the Diocese of Buffalo do what it is trying so hard to avoid.