Priests Tied to Abuse Listed
By Mark Scheer and Rick Pfeiffer
March 13, 2018
A list of priests accused of sexual abuse while serving in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo includes several names with previous ties to parishes in Niagara County.
The list, released Tuesday morning by attorneys representing sexual abuse victims, covers clergy associated with the Diocese of Buffalo who have been accused of committing sexual offense crimes against minors.
Of the 13 priests on the list compiled by Jeff Anderson & Associates, P.A., five were shown to have service histories with ties to Niagara County communities, including Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda and Lockport.
Included on the list are:
The Rev. Robert J. Biesinger, who served at St. Mary's in Lockport in 1968. According to the report, Beisinger resigned after a survivor filed a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused her as a child. The report indicates that a second woman later came forward and alleged that Father Biesinger sexually abused her as a young adult. Biesinger's last appointment was from 1988 to 1994 where he served at St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Cheektowaga. He died in 2012.
The Rev. Joseph P. Friel, who served at St. Joseph in North Tonawanda in 1959 and at St. Charles in Niagara Falls from 1988 to 1990. According to the report, Friel was the subject of a 1994 civil lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a teenage boy in the late 1960s. The report indicates that Father Friel died in 1995 just over a year after the lawsuit was filed.
The Rev. Fred D. Ingalls, who served at St. Joseph's in Niagara Falls from 1983 to 1988. According to the report, Ingalls was placed on leave and sent to an out-of-state treatment facility in February 2004 after he was criminally charged with receiving child pornography and storing it on a computer in the rectory in June 2004. The report indicates that Ingalls pleaded guilty and was subsequently sentenced to just over three years in federal prison.
The Rev. Bernard M. Mach, who served at Sacred Heart in Niagara Falls in 1981 and at St. Mary's in Lockport from 1991 to 1993. According to the report, Mach was placed on leave in December 1993 in the wake of an allegation of child sexual abuse. He reportedly lived in Florida without privileges before he died in 2004.
The Rev. Loville N. Martlock, who served at St. John de LaSalle in Niagara Falls from 1980 to 1981. According to the report, Martlock was placed on medical leave and sent to an out-of-state treatment facility in 1994 in the wake of an allegation of child sexual abuse.
A sixth priest on the list Father Norbert Orsolits admitted to the Buffalo News last month that he sexually abused "dozens" of boys while serving in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
While the list released by the attorneys on Monday did not show Orsolits having served in Niagara County, the Catholic Diocese previously confirmed to the Niagara Gazette that he served at Our Lady Czestochowa parish on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda for roughly five months from September of 1973 until February of 1974. A spokesman for the diocese said he could not "reveal any specific allegations" against Orsolits as they related to his time at the North Tonawanda church.
The report containing the list of priests' names was released by Jeff Anderson and J. Michael Reck, attorneys who have been involved in previous civil litigation involving survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Their report notes that the "vast majority" of the claims against the priests in question "have not been evaluated in a civil court" and cautions that all allegations should be considered allegations and should not be "considered proved or substantiated in a court of law."
The attorneys said the report is an attempt to compile information already available to the public from various sources of public media, bishopaccountability.org and other sources that have attempted to chronicle such information for public use. The report notes that the Diocese of Buffalo does not make available to the public the "full history, knowledge and context of the sexually abusive clerics."
"We're hoping the diocese will do the right thing (now)," Reck said."That they will acknowledge what they did and what the'll do about it. How can an institution make itself better without acknowledging the mistakes of its past."
The Buffalo Diocese announced earlier this month the creation of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which will allow a third-party administrated fund to provide compensation for survivors of sexual abuse by priests. Attorneys from Anderson and Associates noted that the fund is available only for survivors who previously reported their abuse.
"That is a very small percentage of the survivors," Reck said. I think it's a good, small, first step.
The attorneys also noted that a deadline of June 1 has been established for those who qualify for the IRCP in the diocese.
In response to requests for comment about the attorneys' list, a spokesman for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese said: "Any time we receive notice of a claim of abuse and there is a semblance of truth, we remove the priest from active ministry and report it to the appropriate district attorney in accordance with our agreement with the eight counties in our diocese."
Since the announcement about the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, we have heard from a number of people, some of whom have filed claims.
Diocese spokesman George Richert indicated that the diocese intends to release its own list of priest names associated with abuse "very soon," adding that Bishop Malone is "taking this very seriously."
Reck and his partner, Anderson, will release the names of more priests accused of sexually abusing minors in the Dioceses of Syracuse and Ogdensburg. The pair say they hope Catholic dioceses across New York will move to become more transparent on the issue of priests accused of sexual abuse.
"It's our hope to be on the forefront of the child protection movement in New York," Reck said.
TO FILE A COMPLAINT
Anyone who wants to file a complaint of sexual or other abuse by a priest of the Western New York Catholic Diocese is encouraged to contact the victim assistance coordinator for the diocese at 895-3010.