Judge Omits Allegations in Sex Suit against Priest Attorney for Lockport Boy Says Removing Explicit Material Won't Hurt Case
By Matt Gryta
March 26, 1994
A judge Friday deleted eight sexually explicit paragraphs from a lawsuit accusing a Lockport priest of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy three years ago in the parish rectory.
State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Howe ordered the paragraphs about the Rev. Bernard M. Mach's sex life removed from the $ 2 million lawsuit at the request of attorneys for the priest and the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.
Jennifer A. Coleman, the attorney representing the family suing Father Mach, said the removal of the paragraphs won't prevent her from pursuing allegations of sex abuse when the suit goes to trial.
"I really don't think it does anything to the case," Ms. Coleman said.
Daniel T. Roach, Father Mach's attorney, agreed with the judge's ruling.
"Whatever the judge says is right," he said.
Diocese attorney Terrence M. Connors said the case will proceed without what he called the "gratuitous" language Ms. Coleman had inserted in the lawsuit.
None of the deleted paragraphs deals with the suit's allegations that Father Mach showed the boy pornographic movies, fondled him and exposed himself before forcing himself on the boy during an overnight stay with the priest in late October or early November 1991.
Shortly after the suit was filed in December, Father Mach, 55, former pastor at St. Mary's Church in Lockport, and the Rev. John R. Aurelio, 56, spiritual director of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, were placed on leaves of absence by Bishop Edward D. Head.
The leaves were announced the same day Niagara County law enforcement officials reported that Father Aurelio admitted he and Father Mach had sodomized three adolescent boys 15 to 20 years ago in a house the two priests had owned in East Aurora.
Father Mach has publicly insisted he did not sexually abuse the Lockport boy.
A Niagara County grand jury that reviewed the case in October decided against indicting Father Mach because of insufficient evidence.
Roach and Connors told the judge Ms. Coleman could raise allegations about Father Mach's personal life during the trial, which has not yet been scheduled. But they contended that legally she had no right to make such "prejudicial assertions" in what Connors called her "unorthodox" lawsuit papers.
Connors said allegations about the priest's sex life were "in no way related" to the fraud and misrepresentation allegations Ms. Coleman made against Father Mach in her lawsuit, which he said makes an unprecedented claim of "clergy malpractice."
He contended that the sexual allegations were included merely to sensationalize the case and that Ms. Coleman had no legal right to be making such allegations before the trial.
Ms. Coleman told the judge that Father Mach's conduct is "more scandalous and more lewd" than anything mentioned in the legal papers.
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