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Movement to Restore Trust withdraws invitation of panelist for upcoming forum

WBFO file photo/Chris Caya

The lay persons committee formed to address sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has withdrawn the invitation of an individual who was slated to participate in a forum later this month. The Movement to Restore Trust announced the decision Wednesday after information came to light that the individual in question expressed support for a Haiti-based orphanage director who was later charged with sexually abusing several boys.

The Movement to Restore Trust, a committee made up of nine local Catholic lay people, is hosting a panel discussion at Canisius College on Wednesday, November 28 to discuss how to reform and heal the Diocese of Buffalo amidst its sexual abuse scandal.

One of the scheduled participants in that symposium, Madeline Lacovara, will no longer take part. 

In a written statement released Wednesday, the Movement to Restore Trust explained why: "It has been brought to the attention of the founding members of The Movement to Restore Trust in the Diocese of Buffalo that one of the panelists for our upcoming November 28 symposium, Madeline Lacovara, signed a letter in 2008 defending Douglas Perlitz, then director of an orphanage in Haiti, who was accused of sexually abusing the boys in the orphanage.  Madeline and her husband, Philip Lacovara, were involved in the Knights of Malta which supported the orphanage project in Haiti. Perlitz was ultimately charged by U.S. federal prosecutors and pled guilty to 18 charges of abuse of the boys in the orphanage.

"As The Movement to Restore Trust has demanded transparency by the diocese, so too must we be transparent in our actions.  We were not aware of the criminal prosecution of Mr. Perlitz or Ms. Lacovara’s role in the Haiti orphanage.  Both the members of the founding committee and Ms. Lacovara agree that we do not want her involvement to be a distraction to our very important work ahead and we have, therefore, withdrawn the invitation to her to participate."

The November 28 symposium will be held inside the Montante Cultural Center at Canisius College, beginning at 7 p.m. It will be moderated by Canisius President John J. Hurley, who along with his wife make up two of the nine members of The Movement to Restore Trust.

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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