In 2019, two months after former Bishop Richard Malone stepped down as the disgraced leader of the Diocese of Buffalo, he sat down for a sworn deposition with the New York State Attorney General’s office regarding the history of child sexual abuse being covered up and mishandled within the Diocese of Buffalo during his tenure.
In the months and years leading up to the deposition, Malone had been criticized by survivors and advocates for refusing to release names of credibly accused clergy (leaving exposing abuse to brave survivors and their attorneys), misleading parishioners on the extent of the abuse, mishandling cases of child sexual abuse (including hiding priest files in a supply closet), failing to report child sexual abuse to law enforcement (even referring to one priest as a “sick puppy”), and spending millions to hinder survivors’ ability to use the civil justice system in New York.
Malone’s tenure in Buffalo was so tarnished by his mishandling of child sexual abuse that he abandoned his position two years before his expected retirement date.
So, when State officials subpoenaed Malone in October 2019 to testify on the extent of the abuse and cover-up in the Diocese of Buffalo, the public and the AG expected to finally develop an understanding as to why so many children were harmed, and alleged perpetrators were continued to be harbored by the diocese, Malone had a different answer. According to the transcript revealed by the Freedom of Information Act request by the Buffalo News, Malone had one response to most of the questions posed to him:
It gets worse. When confronted on the fact that dozens of cases of abuse had not only been hidden from law enforcement but also were hidden from the Vatican, in direct violation of the Catholic Church’s own 2001 ruling on abuse reporting, Malone’s response was even more appalling:
Now, let’s look at the facts:
The “buck stopped” with Malone.
There is little doubt why the New York AG filed a lawsuit against Malone after this testimony. As bishop and leader of the diocese, it was Malone’s job to know about civil law and Vatican rulings. There is little doubt that he knew exactly what he was and was not disclosing. So much so that he was caught on recording and in action covering up sexual abuse. The cover-up was so bad that it forced an employee into action to become a whistleblower in order.
Why is this testimony important?
Like many other bishops nationwide, Malone has been protected by out-of-date civil and criminal laws that protect predators and leadership who cover up for them. For decades, it was easy for a bishop to claim ignorance, hide documents, shuffle predators to unknowing parishes, funnel money into efforts to stop victim-friendly legislation and keep Catholics in the dark about the real danger.
But times, and the law, are changing. Since this deposition, New York’s Child Victims Act allowed thousands of survivors across the state to expose abuse. The flood of lawsuits forced the Diocese of Buffalo to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and more than 800 brave survivors came forward in that diocese alone.
There is only one conclusion: Malone DID know. And instead of protecting children, he chose to protect predators.