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Law firm renews call to Diocese of Buffalo: reveal all alleged abusers

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A law firm which, last month, released a report identifying more than a dozen priests accused of sexual abuse while serving within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has issued a more detailed second report. In addition to revealing more names and histories, attorney Mick Reck and others urged the Diocese to disclose what they say is still-secret identities of additional priests accused of abuse.

The firm Jeff Anderson and Associates released its second report Tuesday, adding names to their original report of priests identified as having accusations of sexual abuse against them.

Mike Reck, speaking in Buffalo Tuesday, said there are still more accused priests known to the Diocese of Buffalo but have not been identified. He and others releasing the new report say the apologies and offers of reconciliation and compensation by local church leaders will remain inadequate until the Diocese reveals the others whose names have remained withheld, as well as a full list of parish assignments of every accused priest.

"It requires nothing other than transparency," Reck said. "Transparency that's necessary for both analysis of mistakes that have been made and transparency that's necessary for healing. Because healing is only a possibility when accountability exists. This accountability could be achieved simply by the disclosure of what was known and when it was known."

Reck also referred to a letter written in 2004 by then-Monsignor (now Bishop) Robert Cunningham, in regards to a report commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and prepared by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Cunningham, in his letter, revealed that of the more than 2,000 clergy who served within the Diocese of Buffalo between the years 1950 and 2002, 53 of them faced a total 93 accusations of sexual abuse.

What it doesn't reveal, however, are any identities.

"We know what happened, some of it, in years past," Reck said. "But what happened in recent months is particularly noteworthy. This diocese had a choice. They had a choice of whether to do the right thing or not, whether to set aside the secrets of the past whether to set aside the protection of reputations and disclose the truth. They had a choice whether to do the right thing and they chose not to."

Bishop Malone, during a news conference to announce the forthcoming sale of diocesan properties, was asked about the firm's demand for more transparency. He recalled the Diocese itself verified the names of many priests facing accusations. These were priests who are deceased and had more than one accusation against them.

"We feel we've taken significant steps already in releasing the names after all these many years," Bishop Malone said. "Of course we'll keep an eye on all of this as we go forward."

But he maintained his stance that the Diocese will not release personnel files.

"Those are confidential in any organization, including your organizations, I assume," he said. "But we'll keep an eye on all these things and keep pondering and praying."

Bishop Malone also offered an update on the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), announced by the Diocese to provide support for victims who have forwarded complaints against clergy.

"We are still now in the intake aspect of this program," he said. "They have until June 1 to bring these claims in. I know, I've been told, the effort is being made to get these claims and the packets they are presenting to the two judges, the two administrators, so that they can kind of get a feel for the range of issues and claims they're going to be dealing with."

Advocates for victims, though, say the IRCP is very limited in who may participate and a deadline leaves many still living in silence without a comfortable avenue to seek help.

"That breach of trust survivors live with, they live with every single day. To pick up the phone and call an institution that has already betrayed them, is something that many survivors will not do," said Stacey Bishop of Jeff Anderson and Associates. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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