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Abuse victim criticizes Catholic compensation program

WBFO News photo by Michael Mroziak

The man who revealed last week that he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest in the early 1980s is critical of an independent reconciliation and compensation program the Buffalo diocese is creating.

Michael Whalen says the program unveiled by Bishop Richard Malone Thursday falls short because it only covers victims of clergy abuse who filed complaints before March 1st. He says that will shut out anyone who comes forward now with new allegations.

The Diocese said those who have previously made claims of clergy abuse will be contacted and invited to participate in the program offering monetary settlements. Attorney Terrence Connors, representing the Diocese, stated that letters were mailed out Thursday to claimants already in diocesan files.

On Sunday, diocesan spokesman George Richert responded to Whalen's criticism by saying no one is being shut out. He said the diocese wants to hear from victims of clergy abuse. Richert said new allegations will be considered on a case by case basis and that future settlements will be awarded when warranted. He said the compensation program is designed to make sure past victims are taken care of.

Whalen was allegedly abused by Fr. Norbert Orsolits while the priest was assigned to St. John Vianney Parish in Orchard Park during the early 1980s.  Saturday, an open letter from Bishop Richard Malone was read aloud during a parish Mass, asking that "anyone with knowledge of child sexual abuse" involving clergy to report it to police and the diocese. The letter made no mention of the compensation program.

Also Sunday, two more victims have come forward. James McCarthy, now 69, told the Buffalo News that he and his brother were sexually abused as teenagers while Orsolits was serving at St. John the Baptist in Alden in the mid 1960s.