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Local instructor accused of stalking, threatening television reporter

Mike Desmond

Federal prosecutors say a local seminary instructor went over the free speech line when he made a series of threatening cell phone calls to a Buffalo reporter.

The Catholic Diocese scandals took another turn yesterday as a part-time teacher at Christ the King Seminary was busted for felony cyberstalking. Federal charges say Paul Lubiniecki made a series of threatening calls to Channel Seven's Charlie Specht regarding his coverage of the diocesan scandal.

According to U.S. Attorney James Kennedy, phone records show Lubiniecki made 11 calls to Specht between August and December of 2019.

"A number of those calls involved threatening voice mails left by the defendant and they were made on the same day that the victim had reported on various aspects of the Buffalo diocese sex abuse scandal," Kennedy said during a Wednesday news conference.

The charges also claim a "burner" phone was used in an effort to conceal the identity of the caller.

"While many people are passionate in their personal beliefs, freedom of speech does not include using words to intimidate, harass or threaten anyone," said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert.

"Constitutional protections do not extend to making death threats or leaving harassing voice messages."

Arrested on federal cyberstalking charges, Lubiniecki faces up to five years in jail. In court yesterday, he identified himself as a faculty member at Fredonia State. The college didn't return a phone call about his status. Lubiniecki is due back in federal court February 21 with a lawyer.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.